COVID-19: Re-Imagine Everything, Including Democracy

by on May 4, 2020 · 1 comment

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

COVID-19 proves we no longer live in the age of “Readin, ‘Ritin and ‘Rithmetic.”   Rather, the present includes the 4th Industrial Revolution; the equivalent of World War III; a replay of the Gilded Age; and the Great Depression; all occurring simultaneously.

Pandemics make history.  And this pandemic is no exception.  What kind of history COVID-19 leaves in its wake is still in question. Success or failure.

Most of history’s failures can be attributed to a lack of imagination. History’s triumphs, by contrast, sprung from fabulous imaginations.

Sometimes, real talent and artistry break through even in the darkest of hours. For example, the New Deal; the end of colonial rule; the rise of democracy; plus inventions, inventions, and more inventions.  All the way from the light bulb to the Moon shot.  From robotics and AI to the Internet.

Somebody somewhere supplied the imagination required to “light a candle rather than curse the darkness.”  (Eleanor Roosevelt.)

That imagination still exists today and requires everyone to exchange the old school 3Rs for the new ones.  Re-Imagine, Re-Design, and Re-Deploy everything.

Change work spaces, urban designs, classroom configurations, neighborhoods, food sources, and even democracy itself.

For example, move to Tele-everything.  Tele-work.  Tele-medicine.  Tele-shopping. Even Tele-learning.  And do it expeditiously and with equanimity.

A political anthropologist, Max Forte, writes, “All of these models have already been developed, many have been tried, and it is simply a matter of updating or adjusting those which seem best suited for a particular society.”


“One could envision large publicly owned warehouses, completely staffed by robots that locate items using scanners and bar codes, assembling supplies into containers, and sending the containers out for delivery using unmanned vehicles.”

Indeed, it already exists.

Internet connectivity for tele-everything must be a right, not a luxury.  So, too, with basic goods such as food and medicines.

Food sovereignty is paramount. Secure your own seeds; organize a community garden; or share your potatoes amid the famine as the farmer in Idaho did.  Faced with a 2 million potato surplus and no demand, he used his imagination and a Facebook notice to give it all away.

“The response has completely blown me away,” Cranney said. “People are coming from all over the place.”   A woman from Kansas drove 19 hours to collect some. Food banks and soup kitchens showed up.  Children climbed the hill of potatoes to gather some, while others collected potatoes for neighbors and friends.

Thus, “The home, and the neighborhood, could become the new centers, the new engines of the post-COVID economy.”

As Forte argues, “self-supply is self-governance. Any state that is shown to be incapable of feeding and caring for its citizens, particularly in a time of crisis, is a state that demonstrates a lack of capacity for self-rule.”

Enter: Direct Democracy. Speaker Pelosi is right.  “Our democracy hangs by a thread.”  And a slim thread at that.

The contemporary examples of political corruption, lies, hypocrisy, inequality, and disdain for human life defy counting.   As in conservative pundit, Bill O’Reilly’s quote, re: the COVID-10 patients rising death counts; “They were on their last legs anyway.”  Or Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell’s contention that financially burdened states should, “just declare bankruptcy.”

The Republican moves to suppress the vote are not just confined to the states of Georgia or Wisconsin.  Nor are the court fights against Mail-in ballots during this pandemic.  They are now commonplace practices, reminiscent of the pre-Civil War era.

Remember, the constitution is what the U.S. Supreme Court says it is. The ultimate arbiter of all law. And who controls the Supreme Court?  5-4 Republican appointees.

What does this post COVID-19 future portend?

Simple. The future, albeit a distant future, will not be stagnant.  Democracy will become more democratic or fail.   Hence, we must RE-Imagine it.

Ask yourself.  Why not eliminate the middle man?  End the Electoral College?  Leap over the quagmire of lobbyists, corporate donors, rigged tax “reforms,” powerful billionaires, and entrenched stake holders.

Maybe we should be imagining states with more decision-making power, more individualized to their constituents, more immediacy.  Why not trust ourselves.

Imagine real participatory democracy. A safer planet.  Greater civic participation.  And an equitable government. Switzerland, an enviable country, already practices direct democracy.


Think about it.  Seriously. It can start with the new 3-Rs. As with everything, post COVID-19, we must Re-Imagine, Re-Design, and Re-Deploy our future.

“The coronavirus may not be the first horseman of the apocalypse, but it might be the first trumpet blast.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

lowercase d dot org May 7, 2020 at 8:44 am

It would be great to see imagination and technology finally applied to the many problems bedeviling our democracy, including what limited direct democracy we have. Californians certainly both complain enough about how their ballot initiative process currently works and possess the tools technically and to a large part legally to fix it or create a workaround solution. To the extent federal law hurting the democratic capacity of our public sphere can’t be changed by Californians alone, like money = speech, etc., creating a *well designed* democratic forum for the drafting, ballot qualification, and deliberation of proposals could greatly democratize the process, improve access and outcomes, and circumvent the money problem.


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