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Could everyone have a seat at the table?

By Friday, Feb 21, 2020 Letters 4

To the editor:

Watching the recent Democratic Debate in Nevada, I was struck by a recurring sense of discomfort as the election inches closer. The candidates all struggled to stand out, and the press was, as ever, alert to proclaim a winner, to determine who might be rising in popularity, who falling. I realized once again that I am so tired of this pitting of one person against another. And, actually, I am not interested in a lone individual winner, however bad the current situation is. I do not want a Washington, or Lincoln, or Roosevelt – some one special person – man or woman — to save us at this time of an (almost clichéd) existential crisis of leadership.

What I want is to honor the reality that at this time in our social history, the best solutions to real problems tend arise when people with a shared will for improvement put aside their petty differences and work together. Building consensus takes us out of our small egos and asks us to let the best next step for all be what inspires us.

I keep having this dream that all the Democratic candidates – perhaps including those who have dropped out along the way – would go away together for an extended retreat. Their mandate would be to come back with the most promising candidates for president and vice-president, and also for leading cabinet positions. Their task would be to collectively agree on a group of leaders for the future good of the country, a totality that they could all stand behind and support. In this way the different talents of each could be offered to the country. This would be an exciting new take of Lincoln’s “team of rivals” (see the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin).

If the electorate had a full picture of who would be taking on leadership tasks after Donald Trump, I think there could be real enthusiasm going into the election. And relief that cabinet appointments would not be at the whim of personal favor and the kinds of corruption we have witnessed in recent years.

Of course, I can come up with my own dream team, but what I would so welcome is to witness the selfless — indeed revolutionary — leadership that such a process of  true consensus could inspire.

Signe Schaefer

Great Barrington

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