President's Perspective

Finding The Political Nexus


The countdown to the 2012 election is here.  One week to go and the pulse of the American electorate is not yet clear.  But what’s at stake is.   This election season makes the seemingly incongruent nexus of environment, economy and democracy clearer than ever. 

The three dominant issues looping the airwaves are jobs, energy and human/civil rights. The latter particularly relates to the constitutional issues on the rights of women and the role of government in civil society.  While the candidates‘ policy stances and strategies on these issues differ, there is a national call to action to ‘fix it’.  There is a unified recognition among the American public that our future depends on a solution to these challenges.  Despite unanimity on the issues, our political system is too broken to lead to effective solutions.  We are hopelessly polarized.  We are intransigent in our views.  We are angry; lashing out by demonizing the other side.  The political discourse is poisonous. And this reality defies past and professed efforts to ‘reach across the aisles’. 

But this commentary cannot unpack the role of politics, the legislative process and the media in the making of this new normal. Rather, it suggests Emerald Cities Collaborative as an alternative to a broken system.

Emerald Cities sits at the epicenter of what matters to Americans today.  ECC’s core business focuses on re-examining and investing in America’s energy future. It also links our energy futures to strengthening our local economies.  But perhaps the boldest idea is harnessing the power of the democratic process to find common ground.  In essence, ECC uses an ‘all on the table’ approach and  ‘multi-stakeholder” consensus building process to rebuild America.   At the national level and within our 10 regional markets, ECC is working with business, labor, community organizations, academics and government to figure it out.  We are creating the civic space and civic capacity to deal with the tough issues.  We are addressing our immediate needs, while planning a better, more inclusive future. We are crossing the divides – demographic, geographic and special interests.  We are breaking through real and perceived differences.  We don’t always agree, differing, for example, on energy options, job-sharing policies among other challenges. But, we are working to find the nexus and we do.  It is not always easy.  Some of our conversations are difficult.  It doesn’t always result in full agreement.  But, there is always the nexus – a common place where we can act.

So, perhaps I am biased. But to me, ECC is the best of what America is and should be.  Our future requires a renewed investment in rebuilding America’s civic infrastructure --  where democratic processes and not politics respects and balances the diversity of views, interests and needs to tackle America’s toughest issues.