We all know how divided the country is. We all know how divided the Congress is. We all know how divided the Supreme Court is.
None of us know how to unite any of it again.
Imagine our government solving facing anything bigger than traffic gridlock in DC or collapsing subways in NYC or crumbling education in LA. Imagine even that.
Disheartening, isn’t it, especially for a country that prides itself on saving the world from Hitler, being first on the moon- all in the last century.
In this century all we have achieved is a government that actually shuts itself down.
Big problem. No solution. At least from our leaders.
Like all solutions, the answer to this lies in understanding the problem.
Years ago, Congress men and (the very few) women of different persuasions would actually talk to each other, go to the same cocktail parties, hang their coats in the same cloakroom. Now their only common activity is using the same cloakroom. And, if they do chummy up to someone from the other side, they have to keep it secret or get tossed out in the next election.
The problem is tribalism: groups of people who stick with their own tribe to the point of idiocy: Republicans vs Democrats, Tea Partiers vs Moderate Republicans, Progressives vs Centrist Democrats.
It wasn’t always this way. Way back in the last century, Reagan and Tip O’Neill had drinks together of an evening, even though they were opposites in politics. It allowed them to develop trust in each other and pass some good laws. It allowed them to govern.
So, if the problem is tribalism, the solution is breaking down tribalism, right? But how?
There’s not a lot of out-of-the-box thinking in DC these days; they’re still arguing over climate change. We have a president who envies the Great Wall of China and Senators like Grassley and Hatch, who think a millennial is some kind of Roman column. At a recent hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Facebook’s Zuckerberg if Twitter did the same thing as Facebook. Really. No joke.
Time for a new approach.
To start, let’s take note of something new in politics for 2019: women. Half the country has always been women, but we just recently decided they might have enough brains and talent to help govern. We now have 126 women in Congress. That’s new.
And then, lets go just about as far from sclerotic DC thinking as we can. I’m thinking Silicon Valley types, high tech thinking. They’re full of novel ideas, like internet dating.
My solution to divided government combines Internet dating and women in government into a new website just for members of Congress.
I call it “535 Date”.
Its purpose is different from most dating websites. It is not about sex and lust, though. Nope, this website is about respect and teamwork. (Ok, maybe a little of the other two; after all, we are talking about powerful people).
Here’s how it works:
Senators and Representatives go to the “535 Dates” website, where they choose ID’s and passwords. Each fills out some forms with their core beliefs, knowledge of government and politics, age, education, gender and, most important, ideas for new bills, aspirations for the country, ways to get along with other members.
They then peruse profiles of each other. If they see a profile they like, they email anonymously through a secure email system. They communicate tentatively at first. Then, when trust is established, they exchange email addresses and communicate more freely. Finally, they meet in person (surreptitiously at first, so fellow Democratic and Republican tribal members don’t know), possibly in the Cloakroom, or, more likely, in the corner of some dark bar in DC. They get to know each other. They respect each other. They form friendships.
It’s a bit of a subterfuge, of course, using a dating format to encourage respect and openness, but whatever works, right?
And voila! Friends across the aisle, the breakdown of tribalism.
Out of deference to their high office, membership will also be granted to Trump and Pence. No worries though. Pence will refuse, because he doesn’t ever use the Internet without his wife next to him.
It will be also an incentive for Trump to learn how to actually use a computer.
We’re hoping he will eventually stumble onto Nancy Pelosi and a long friendship will ensue to the great relief of the entire country – not to mention Melania.