Standing at a moment of transformation, leaders in Massachusetts and the nation have a chance to build a new and better tomorrow.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed, like little else before, the deep and systemic inequalities in our country and the broken nature of our political culture. And with President Joe Biden’s swearing in last week, Americans have a chance to address the former and repair the latter.
Gone is the divisive Trump administration and the demagogic ways of its leader. Banished from social media and many television news networks, his hold on his erstwhile party’s members is uncertain.
And a bruising year of demonstrations, long food pantry lines and 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the ways ordinary working people in this country – particularly people of color – have been denied even basic elements of the American dream.
The experiences of 2020 have shifted the nation’s politics, at least temporarily. Government help for tenants who can’t pay rent thanks to an economy that consigned them to a low-wage job that can’t be done remotely now enjoys broad support. The honest pain and frustration in the voices of millions of peaceful demonstrators who marched for racial justice this summer has spurred business leaders to take action within their firms to break down barriers to opportunity. And official competence is back in vogue after we all witnessed the tragedies that unfold when a government is unable to do its job of protecting its citizens.
Republicans, Democrats, lobby groups and activists should seize this moment to build a better politics, focused on offering a hand up to the everyday people who have been on the losing end of our economy for too long. Doing so can help pull the country back from the precipice of division and discord on which we stand.
Locally, we face a similar opportunity for a new beginning. While our relationships across party lines are nowhere near as toxic as they are nationally, we still must grapple with the reality that our state is a place of haves and have-nots, all while staring down the existential threat of climate change. As Scott Van Voorhis writes in his column this week, look no further than the Greater Boston housing market for painful data points showing who can and who can’t afford cherished commodities like homeownership.
As the pandemic wanes and we look to sweep away its rubble and rebuild anew, let cooperation and generosity be the watchwords, with common goals in mind: to improve the lot of the common Bay Stater and to take the long view in every step.
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