Every election year, we hear one side or the other accuse their opponents of being "radicals." Radicals on the Right, radical Leftists, radical independents, socialists, Marxists, etc., the list goes on. The word gets tossed around too much. We are all radicals to some extent.
The word has more relative than objective meaning. My version of a radical could be much different from everyone else. Hippies in the '60s were thought to be radicals because they looked and spoke differently from "normal" people. They staged "sit-ins" at government buildings and college administration offices. They played a lot of guitars and sang songs about overthrowing the establishment. Most of them still subsisted on their parent's income though, so maybe theirs was a qualified form of radicalism.
Apparently, Jesus Christ was considered a radical by the reigning Jewish and Roman governments of His time. His servant leadership message, humbling oneself and elevating the poor was just a little too much for the powerful elite to handle. Christ's followers were so radical that they "turned the world upside down."
Subversive radicals formed America. Hard to imagine George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson as radicals. We would still be kneeling to the Queen of England had those nasty rabble-rousers decided to be more subservient.
Now, we use the term in a derogatory manner. To be radical is to be a degenerate, a no-goodnik, someone to be feared and loathed. Are there no suitable radicals or at least good people with radical ideas?
Donald Trump is a radical. His campaigns were unorthodox, obviously. He was not liked by Democrats or Republicans until he got elected. Most Republicans then switched gears and publicly lauded him. There is no radical like a useful radical! While I am not a fan of Trump, I recognize why so many follow him. He is not a product of either major political party. He feels no compulsion to show loyalty to any party ideology. His dedication is to himself, and he doesn't hide that fact. I think many are disappointed that he didn't follow through on so many of his espoused radical ideas, such as locking up political opponents. Still, one can only do so much in a democracy.
I don't know if Trump will win re-election. The polls are in Biden's favor, but we remember how 2016 turned out. Trump has paved the way for future political radicals to be more readily embraced by the American electorate. So, in that spirit of radical freedom, I suggest we seriously consider some radical ideas that may now be acceptable.
Why not have congressional and Senate members stay home? Living in Washington, D.C., causes a disconnect between representatives and their constituents. As we have learned from the pandemic, virtual meetings can be as productive as in-person conferences. Why pay for a congressman's expenses to live in an expensive area when they could stay home and have coffee or town hall meetings with the people who voted them in? Committee meetings, hearings, and other forms of congressional action could all be conducted online. It would also allow more oversight by the public. Anything that makes the government more transparent is a good thing.
Why not have online voting? We do everything else electronically. The United States is supposedly the most technologically advanced nation on earth. Why don't we have a safe and secure way to vote on our mobile phone, laptop, or library computer? Participation in elections would increase dramatically, and who would not want that to occur? Oh, wait...uh, yeah. Okay, maybe some radical change in thinking is needed by those who believe that voter suppression is a good way to stay in office.
Create a cabinet position or two for ordinary folks. Too many cabinet appointees are chosen based on favoritism. Establish guidelines for a cabinet seat occupied by someone with no connections to Wall Street, lobbyists, or large corporations. In fact, they can be chosen at random to fill the seat for six months, then have others rotate through the position. Their voices should carry just as much weight as any other position. Perhaps then a President and his staff will get views from people directly affected by government policy.
Anyone elected as President must reveal all financial information. There can be no ambiguity as to allegiance to any foreign country, financial or otherwise. This should be an obvious requirement. If it deters someone from running for office, so be it.
Some of what I listed are not to be taken seriously and their degree of radicalness is debatable. Radical ideas are what brought this nation to life, so let's not be too hasty to reject them out of hand. Who knows, perhaps the extreme views of today may seem tame and acceptable by future standards?
-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.