According to the World Health Organization and John Hopkins University tracking, as of December 23rd, 2020, there are 76,382,044confirmed cases and 1,702,128 deaths globally and more than 315,318 deaths across the U.S. The efforts to contain the pandemic that started a year ago, have been widely criticized and have led to devastating economic problems. In the US 35,000,000 people lost their employment, many businesses shut down and will likely fail, and the overall economy has seen the largest contraction in years, and as a result of government efforts to address this situation, trillions of dollars have been added to our already unprecedented federal debt. Americans throughout the 50 states have been subjected to public health directives to stay at home, social distance, and wear masks to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is the cause of the COVID-19 disease. Fear and social distancing have created hardships and economic realities that are threatening our financial system. The efforts by both federal and state governments to address the pandemic have amplified the partisan divide. The political fallout has further exposed the polarization in our society, the lack of competence of the federal government, and the challenges of global political order. Although there has been unprecedented collaboration among researchers, clinicians, and public health officials to identify the virus and to develop treatments to target it, and more recently an effective vaccine, the process to find evidence-based interventions to help patients and communities has been dangerously politicized.
The systematic examination of the underlying pathology provides a framework to better understand our representative democracy, its institutions and the complex political process that defines our political system. Such a process may introduce ideas and tools to reclaim/redefine the role of the citizen within the political ecosystem. During this time of political polarization and lack of trust in government, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to learn about how our government functions and how it gets corrupted. Understanding how our present government functions will make it possible to suggest strategies for citizens to be active in holding public servants accountable to carry out their duties. More specifically, the pandemic challenges us to understand our political DNA, which is based on a constitution written over 230 years ago, in order to provide meaningful solutions and ways to manifest them in our 21st-century world. But we must go beyond understanding the current condition associated with the COVID 19 pandemic.
We must consider the social, economic, and psychological challenges that the pandemic amplified, and target the social, and cultural changes facing an increasing number of Americans that are likely to contribute to the “death of despair” already part of American society. The journey is consistent with the importance that James Madison saw for public opinion in the constitutional architecture he and the other founders established. We seek solutions that address the challenges of the entire COVID 19 pandemic ecosystem. Most importantly we use the process to utilize a pragmatic solution-focused approach to reclaim the role of the citizen within the body politic. The challenge we face is to engage in a process that will achieve the best outcome with acceptable unintended consequences. The effort will leverage aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic to better understand the corruption of the body politic. The overall goal is to use the COVID 19 crisis as a case study to better understand the political and social forces in our society and to better address the challenges facing our body politic. The process will lead to a crowdsourced document that reflects the case presentation approach, a tool for increased citizen engagement.
In order to have an impact on the various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the toxic social fabric it has brought to the front of the national consciousness, it is essential to better understand and address the various drivers of the pandemic and their consequences. Exploring the COVID 19 pandemic with a complexity lens allows for a more comprehensive approach that includes identifying and addressing the many factors that impact the COVID 19 pandemic. These factors include political corruption, corporate decision making, social determinants, public policy, systemic realities. These efforts must be informed by the economic, social, cultural, political, and spiritual factors that are the breeding ground for systemic pathology known to sustain and amplify the pandemic. The approach must address the complexity associated with the COVID 19 pandemic and the problem of pathogens in general by focusing on the entire COVID 19 ecosystem and target and hold accountable the various stakeholders and bring about systemic change.
There is a need for a citizen-oriented comprehensive plan to address the devastation and launch a project that uses a more complex narrative to provide a framework to understand the challenges, embrace the opportunities and combat the barriers that have given birth to and stymied meaningful treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The time is now to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses the interconnected challenges the pandemic poses and just as important to provide an exercise in citizen engagement.
What Can Be Done?
Setting up the Framework
The overall goal is to use the COVID-19 pandemic project to better understand the political and social forces in our society and to better address the challenges facing our body politic. The process will lead to a crowdsourced document that reflects the case presentation approach, a tool for increased citizen engagement. The COVID-19 Pandemic Project, the current organizing approach, starts with a vision and context for the project, describes and introduces the framework, the Medical Case Presentation, and the initiation of a related process, the COVID 19 Pandemic Citizen Commission to test our hypothesis for citizen engagement. The framework process allows for establishing a shared vision, reliable and verifiable data and information, crowdsourced ideas and suggestions, transparency, and response to evolving reality. The project highlights the potential for citizen action, interest groups, citizen groups, individuals, non-governmental regulators, as well as public officials to impact the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the beginning of the new year we are launching the COVID 19 Pandemic Citizen Commission.
During the past year the COVID 19 pandemic sweeping the globe has exposed the severe pathology of the body politic. We are at a crossroads with many options on many levels for how to move forward. There are many suggestions on many political, social, economic levels.
The COVID 19 pandemic presents an excellent framework to test a “citizen-centric” approach to address the problems facing our national body politic that is informed by our constitutional framework and recognizes government corruption.
The project leverages the multitude of issues evoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and its management, to create a framework that tests an approach built on enhancing the role of citizens in our threatened democracy.
The project provides the rationale for and educates about the fundamental importance of public opinion in a democracy:
Provide a narrative that is more nuanced and complex, utilizing data and information focusing on potential solutions.
Provide tools and information to enhance the role of the citizen as part of the body politic and a framework for personal involvement interface with government at all levels. (Federal, State, Local communities)
Provide a framework for citizen opinion and communication (Citizen Commission) and the Medical Case Presentation
An evolving media framework that utilizes digital technology, crowdsourcing tools.
Explore through a citizen’s commission the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic using the complexity/ ecosystem lens using an approach that is based on the interconnected and complex bio-psycho-socio-political challenges of the pandemic.
The COVID 19 Pandemic Project is a grass-root citizen-driven undertaking to shape the current conversation and takes a deeper dive into the various stakeholders associated with the pandemic contextualized within the larger social, cultural, and political landscape.
Contextualize the personal experience of individuals suffering from COVID 19.
Citizenism in Action: Overview and the COVID 19 Project (Shrink the Government) Google Doc