Socially Distant, Politically Powerful: Competence Matters

During this first week of social distancing, it’s completely understandable that most Americans first priorities, in no particular order, were something like:

  • Adjusting to work-from-home with or without people doing different work from home;
  • Groceries
  • Filing for unemployment
  • Managing control of the remote control
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Balancing home-schooling responsibilities, childcare, screen time
  • Hand-Sanitizer
  • Remembering to reach out to family, friends, neighbors
  • Toilet Paper
  • Finding the right place at home, right angle for light, right headset for sound for the abundance of Zoom, Skype, Ring, WebEx meetings and FaceTimes with friends and family
  • Liquor store/Dispensary (in some states)
We at Common Cause know not everyone is an election geek, so most Americans are forgiven for not prioritizing politics in this first week of social distancing. We did it for you. It was the third Super Tuesday primaries in Arizona, Illinois, Florida, but not Ohio – the first and worst kind of last-minute postponement creating confusion for Ohio voters and concern for anyone who cares about democracy. Georgia, Louisiana, and Kentucky were the first states to postpone primaries, but they did it weeks ahead, not hours. You may be hearing about how easy it will be for everyone to vote by mail we urge caution – it is a solution that can work when implemented carefully and with certain components to ensure no one is disenfranchised. We’re also actively working with Congress to make sure the next stimulus package includes elements essential to strengthening democracy during this crisis. And while we understand it’s hard for legislatures to hold public meetings, we want to make sure they don’t forget any meetings they do have should still find a way to be accessible to the public.

But as we settle into to what increasingly looks like a season at home (at least its Spring, right?) there are many reasons that Americans need to remember while we are socially distant, we are still politically powerful. We need to remember politics is how we select our leaders, but governing is what we expect them to do. In 2020, regardless of party, make sure you vote with competence and solutions top-of-mind when you enter the polls.

Here are a few things you can do today to be timely, topical, and start a new way of engaging your friends online:

  • Invite friends on your favorite social media platform to watch the daily COVID19 briefing from the White House together at 11:45 – but here’s the catch – make sure everyone commits to watching it all the way through to the end. Do it a few days in a row, discuss after each one. It’s important to note that while President Trump has given new meaning to the “Art of the Lie” with a whopping 16,421 told in three years, but not being honest with the public about a public health crisis takes lying to another level.
  • Share the Pro-Publica story about Senators Burr, Loeffler, Inhofe, and Feinstein, who may have violated the STOCK-ACT by selling stocks in industries likely to tank when the market crashed. Burr’s actions especially egregious in that he told donors at a high-dollar fundraising event for his campaign that the pandemic was going to be worse than anything we’ve experienced but in statements to non-major donors and a Fox News op-ed he reassured us simple folk everything was hunky-dory and the US is as prepared for the pandemic as the Kansas Jayhawks or Duke Blue Devils are for basketball’s March MSadness. Unfortunately, it turns out we’re about as prepared for the pandemic as this year’s UNC Tarheels were for the post-season.
  • If the fact a few Senators banked millions (potentially) while your 401k was wiped out, your job lost, or just because it’s a grotesque display of putting the “me” before the “we” you can take action right here and encourage others to as well.

After a generation of politicians making elections all about them by personalizing politics, never-ending campaigns, and hyper-partisanship leading to polarization, it’s time for we the people to prioritize governing over party politics and competence in governing over ideology.

We may be socially distant, but we remain politically powerful. We call it the Power of We.