The Problem: Government has lost its way. Federal departments and agencies are out of touch with what the American public wants and expects. Some departments and agencies have failed this nation for decades with no accountability and no apparent remorse.
The Bigger Mess: We need tax reform, trade reform, fiscal reform, immigration reform, regulatory reform, justice reform, education reform and health care services available to all of us. We want a government that honors our commitments to veterans and heals our broken trust and broken treaties with native American and Alaskan Indian communities. We want a government that encourages business growth while improving worker safety and protecting our environment.
We want all that and we want accountability to matter again. For example, the U. S. Department of Education has failed this nation for decades. Fixing government means most of all getting results and spending taxpayer monies wisely.
The Big Idea: In Conversations with America, every department and agency will re-establish their true purpose and priorities. I do not mean listening sessions. I mean the American public will drive how we define the new purpose and priorities of our government of the people by the people and for the people. These will be hard discussions - yet this is the only way to rebuild trust and create a government that makes sense in the 21st century.
- With input from the American public, every federal department and agency will review and revise their vision, purpose, goals and priorities.
- The White House will consult to the design of these Conversations with America.
The regional Federal Executive Boards will play a central role coordinating and summarizing these agency dialogs.
- These Conversations with America will inform White House - Congressional discussions establishing goals and strategies for government-wide reform efforts.
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My presidential platform combines fixing our broken government and building peace here at home and around the world. The two elements are connected: building peace requires fixing government. I also believe we have to reduce and prevent violence here at home before we can make much progress building peace around the world.
In this article, I will start with a story about peacebuilding and then present a strategic plan to reduce and prevent violence in America.
In the 2 months since I announced that I am an independent candidate for President of the United States, I have been to New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and back to Maryland and then upstate New York. Here are my observations about the rise of independent politics in America. I see 5 trends:
America is finally and quite visibly confronting a broken justice system and the disproportionate arrest, detention and incarceration of people of color. The trigger for this awakening has been the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement. Other tragedies could have provoked such outrage including private for-profit prisons with federally mandated quotas for immigration arrests or the abuse of locked-up prisoners including juveniles or the built-in bias of laws that imprison women who act to protect themselves or their children from domestic violence. Clearly, this is an opportunity for change – let’s be wise and effective about what we do as a nation.
In the summer of 2013, I drove across and around the USA, talking, thinking and meeting with lots of amazing people, especially those working on juvenile justice reform, prison reform and all that goes into the concepts of community justice. More than anything else, I learned that people are really pissed off at Washington DC and I still don’t think our politicians get how angry everyone is. There is a lot of frustration, anger, disappointment, distrust and outright disrespect for Washington DC and politicians of every stripe. The signs were everywhere – almost every ¼ mile for almost 200 miles throughout drought-stricken California: "Washington DC is causing another dust bowl," "Politicians bringing the water crisis to America" and "Paying for water not delivered." My favorite sign I wouldn’t see until I got to Minnesota: “The National Security Agency - the only part of government that actually listens to the people.”
In November 1962 John F Kennedy signed a Presidential Memo setting in place the Federal Executive Boards with the purpose of improving effectiveness and cost efficiencies across federal agencies outside Washington DC. Today there are 28 such Boards in geographic areas of substantial federal activity. They are composed of the highest-ranking official of every federal agency (civilian, military and postal service) in that particular area. Coordination can improve effectiveness by sharing resources and expertise, or literally save budget dollars sharing administrative functions such as recruitment and personnel.
The year 2013 was the 25th anniversary of my first book, Peacemaking: A Systems Approach to Conflict Management. Since publication, I have learned many things about this work. First, I learned peacebuilding does not pay well and I would have to find a real job. Then, inside the federal government, I realized that what I wrote about the technology, psychology and theory of peace-seeking dialogs is relevant in any setting in any location and at any time.