November 10, 2020
By Arthur H. Gunther III
Joe is in, so is Kamala. Next, it’s gotta be the people.
Kamala Harris cannot have her office in Washington, where the K-Street lobbyists and other special interests buy elections and pull strings for clients from domestic to foreign, from the military to the industrial.
No, the first female vice president, the first person of color in that office, must establish rotating offices in the heartland, in the inner cities, in those suburbs that are decaying. She must help push the right buttons to restore dignity to those who have lost manufacturing and other jobs; she must help address the lack of job retraining and affordable health care, the scourge of substance abuse, the loss of hope. Harris must hug beyond red tape those who face despair, even suicide. Do all this from a regional vice-presidential office with direct access to the president, agencies and officials who can make progress happen.
What must Joe Biden do? Many things, of course, since a president must lead the nation in all matters domestic and foreign. And he has an even stiffer job since such presidential action and example have not been seen for four years.
Biden must get the people “in,” in the war room of actual change, by creating a new cabinet post, “Secretary of the People,” as powerful as the Secretary of State. It would be filled by someone who advises the president, who can bring to that person’s ears the drowned-out voices of all the diverse people.
If there were such a secretary sitting with other counselors of government, perhaps the White House cocoon that is inaccessible these days to ordinary folk would at long last have an inside person to get to the president.
To prevent special-interest wooing of the Secretary of the People, the post would be held for just one year, with the president appointing each successor from somewhere in ordinary America. The chief executive would not select the individual himself, but rather an independent, volunteer group would search the nation far and wide and make a recommendation. Senate ratification would be almost a given, in the spirit of cooperation and to avoid lobbying by groups sure to be hurt by “common sense.”
Special interests already have their counselors, appointed and otherwise. Why not the people? Perhaps there is no other way to gain access to the White House for them.
Joe and Kamala are in; now the people, too.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org