Whitehouse.GOV: Engage and Connect

The Whitehouse recently sent me one of their mass emails (at one point I subscribed to get updates from the Obama White House) with a request to fill out their survey:


President Obama is committed to making this the most open and participatory administration in history. That begins with taking your questions and comments, inviting you to join online events with White House officials, and giving you a way to engage with your government on the issues that matter the most.

They asked what the primary issues of concern were for me and I answered that no 1 was the Environment and no 2 was Education. There was ample space after each to explain my answers.

Below is my response:

My thoughts on the Environment

The lack of holistic thinking is troubling. I feel like Obama has lost touch with a political base that might cut across predictable political lines. Ecological consciousness is not so much about ecology its about how we might build a economy and society in harmony with the ecology rather than seeking to destroy it. We need healthy food, water and to be sure that the things being produced by our industries have ecological and social integrity in terms of really creating value in the economy. This means we need policies and positions that are comprehensive and integrated in scope and impact so as to rethink a lot of how we build, produce and move around in the modern world. These policies should be wisely crafted and pragmatic, understanding the system dynamics of a capitalist oriented economy, while really dramatically and drastically changing course in the country away from the negative and unsustainable aspects of capitalism.


My Thoughts on Education

Without education what are we? If the education system has failed us not not because we neglect the 3 Rs or do not focus enough on the rote methods of learning, but for the fact that we focus on them too much. The educational system is simply not up to the job of giving people a comprehensive understanding of how the world works.

We focus too much on memorizing static things, times and dates and not enough on helping the student learn how to think in the Age of the Computer and Internet – and the dynamic global connectivity that results from these innovations.

A 21st century education is based on the realization that to learn how to adapt and think critically is much more important that learning how to take standardized tests which still seems to be the primary role of education system today. So are we surprised that kids today so hate to learn that they don’t know the basics of the persons, places and things of our modern world, much less the complexities of how our world works?

If we are to have some kind of national standard this “common core” should be arranged around the core values and priorities that we have as a nation. I believe that we can find this by encouraging people to look and think about what they value in a society as citizens and then consider the knowledge needed to sustain that.

To obsess about how our kids are not keeping up with other nations as both absurd and counterproductive because it offers no meaningful solution. What is needed is a way to vision the future society and to begin to have a discussion about what kind of approaches to education are important towards sustaining democracy in the modern world.


What would you like to see more of in these Emails?

I’d like to see a real desire to get people involved in the political system and to show people the way a bit. I like sites and emails that move people in a direction of directly contacting their local media or congresspeople.

I’d also like to see some real effort to link together a plan and vision for this country that is not so short term oriented around creating jobs in the next quarter or some social issue legislation.

What’s needed is a vision for moving the country into the 21st century. The Chinese and many other countries seem to get this by investing aggressively in rail, renewables and other cutting edge infrastructure and yet we lag increasingly and to an embarrassing degree beyond them. This indicates to me that in truth we have already surrendered our status as the world’s superpower – not that I could care really because national champions to sustainable a global empire was just a distraction and excuse to deny putting our common people before corporations and the wealthy who control them.

What kind of Green Strategy does this administration have anyhow? I really don’t know other than their inconsistent policies seem to send a very mixed message like we don’t want to rock the boat and we are afraid to confront the corporation that control our economy when they need to be confronted in the defense of the larger public and national interests.

That’s too bad because your administration seems to many of us like another in a long line of presidents who make promises they can’t keep. Then you people wonder why people are so apathetic? Maybe you have to buy into the lies of DC just to be there?

Our country cannot continue like this and maybe the possibility of it breaking up is not such a bad thing. Because the most important thing is that a government be accountable to its people. If we can’t do this then we need to rethink the system of government and society and try something else.

So I amidst all the savvy YES WE CAN marketing of this presidency I never saw a real sense of substance not in terms of health care this or economic growth that but a real road map for a strategy to ensure not just prosperity in economic terms but how to really embrace the values of the socially conscious and sustainability/green biz/green design movements. Nothing Zippo Zilch.

We have to abandon the policies of the past and embrace a community focused approach to governance and that means that maybe Republicans and the Tea Party folk have some points to make about rethinking our system of government a bit. Yet I think they are off base and delusion if they think we should regulate corporations less when it comes to ensuring clean water, healthy and a pristine environment.

So it needs to be more than what I would like to see in the emails it has to be about a rethink in your strategy and approach on a very fundamental level. Like when I read an article about how the president’s meetings with ordinary people are stage managed to the point that nothing really substantive comes out of it. No wonder people don’t care about politics anymore, they see no point to their voicing their opinions because it falls on deaf ears. They feel their time is better spent focusing on trivial things because you guys are much more interested in what the billionaries are saying than what we are saying.

So It like to see less PR stage managing and more genuine concern about what the people in this country are thinking and saying and I’d like to see these emails being designed as part of a larger strategy to get energize once and fall this YES WE CAN movement that our president and your employer promised.

I demand results and accountability from my public officials and I have yet to see them. Lets get started!


Anything else?

I think I’ve pretty much said it in the previous comment form fields.

Focus on your core. If you continue to lack a vision or are not promoting that vision effectively you will fail and you will most have yourselves to blame.

President Obama has a lot of opportunity at this point in his presidency to finally act on this idea that we can truly and fundamentally change the direction of this country to reflect the values of integrity that the Declaration of Independence represents.

So to me YES WE CAN can be a rallying cry to make the last few years of this admin not another predictable lame duck session but a strong effort to build national consensus around shared values centered around human dignity, decency coupled with sound and sustainable public policies that encourage private sector and non profit innovation in solving the increasingly complex problems of modern society.

  • YES WE CAN have a president that speaks TRUTH TO POWER
  • YES WE CAN have a president that articulates a CONSISTENT and RIGHTEOUS US FOREIGN POLICY

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