Stick or twist? - Issue 137 - Magazine | Monocle

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Jeffrey Sachs

US economist

“The US needs to follow the path of sustainable development. We need to use our nation’s vast wealth and know-how to create a society that is prosperous, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.”


Deborah Archer

Professor,NYU School of Law

“America must embrace a model of public safety that centres on investing in the strengths, health and wellbeing of our communities. This includes the decriminalisation of people of colour and a rectifying of the wider problems that are produced by our unequal system, including poverty, homelessness, mental-health crises and behaviour in adolescence.”


General Michael Hayden

Former director, CIA and National Security Agency

“Truth has been under attack in recent years in all aspects of our national life, including science, the law, academia, the media and intelligence. The new president should make a commitment to focus on America’s foundational principles and ideals. He should promise to concern both himself and the nation with the meaning of truth. Intelligence in the US model should be apolitical.”


Jane Fonda

Actor and activist

“I think that people don’t really realise how close to the edge most Americans live: the delivery men, the postal workers, the nurses, the teachers and the homecare workers. What we need is a prepared big government that has the capacity and the resilience to address things such as a pandemic and the climate crisis. And then listen to the experts. Listen to the scientists.”


Ryan Williams

Former presidential campaign spokesman for Republican senator Mitt Romney

“It is important that the next president doesn’t over-serve their own base and instead looks for some middle ground. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did it in order to fix social security. Bill Clinton worked across the aisle on welfare reform. George W Bush and Ted Kennedy worked together on education. The Obama years were fairly partisan but it has become much worse since. The next president needs to restore some degree of civility. They need to put pressure on their own party to do it and involve the other party in it as well.”


Amy Pope

Deputy homeland security advisor under Barack Obama

“The US cannot build a wall around itself to ward off infectious disease. The best strategy is to invest in partnerships to improve disease surveillance and our response capabilities, and also to expand the distribution of medical countermeasures and vaccines around the world. Even if the US succeeds in mitigating an outbreak, our economy, our supply chains and our national security remain at risk unless the outbreak is managed globally.”


Kevin Rudd

Former Australian prime minister; president, Asia Society Policy Institute

“The next US president’s in-tray won’t be for the faint-hearted. They’ll need to rebuild American strength at home and its credibility abroad, including by defeating the pandemic and winning the planetary challenge on climate change. This will require a comprehensive, inter-agency, inter-allied and bipartisan strategy on China. The US and China must understand each other’s red lines, identify where competition will be pursued vigorously but peacefully within these boundaries and pinpoint where collaboration is in both their own and global interests.”


Janine di Giovanni

Journalist and senior fellow at Yale University

“The US needs to train a cadre of new and brilliant young leaders who are committed to democracy, in order to start the process of transitional justice in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.”


Luis von Ahn

Entrepreneur and co-founder of Duolingo, Pittsburgh

“Right now the US is telling future innovators that they’re not welcome, by way of its visa restrictions and permit bureaucracy. These short-term decisions will affect the country’s long-term success. I want the best talent working with me – but if it’s not available here then we will be forced to open offices overseas. If you want the best team, you need to recruit from all over the world; just ask [football clubs] Liverpool, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.”


Jeffrey Feltman

Former US ambassador to Lebanon

“Whatever the frustrations in the UN, the US retains “home team” advantage in the post-Second World War architecture that it designed. Stomping off the playing field enables China and Russia to swap our rules of the game for theirs.”


Ryan Wilson

CEO,The Gathering Spot, a private members’ club in Atlanta

“We need a change of leadership that will inspire a different type of conversation about ways in which we help minority entrepreneurs who have not, historically, been able to participate in entrepreneurship. It’s said that about 40 per cent of black-owned companies will close by the end of the year. We need new leadership to change that trajectory.”


Linda Chavez

White House official under Ronald Reagan

“If we want to have a thriving economy then we need to continue to welcome people into the US. We are a nation built on an idea: the principle that all are created equal. The way to build a better America is to recognise that we have to work together, even when we have differences, and to realise that we are part of a greater whole.”


Richie Reseda

Abolitionist organiser and music producer, Los Angeles

“We need to wean ourselves off our addiction to revenge. Right now our justice system, our foreign policy, our court system and our corporate policies are all based on the idea that domination is power and that revenge is justice – that if you hurt me then I should hurt you back. Change is about funding transformative justice organisations and investing in them in a tangible way. Then we would be living in a much safer place.” 


Jennifer Morgan

Executive director, Greenpeace International

“The way to a healthier, greener, more stable America is a well-funded social safety net and choosing clean energy over fossil fuels. This means a trustworthy US president prioritising people’s wellbeing alongside climate action, by solving our ailing healthcare system, the yawning pay gaps and extreme weather impacts.”


Karen Donfried

Head of the German Marshall Fund think-tank,Washington

“Allies matter. The US government urgently needs to work together with its European partners to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Looming over all of this is the relationship of the US and Europe in regards to China. What a powerful message we would send to China and beyond if our recovery from the pandemic showcased the competence, compassion and co-operation of open, democratic and free societies.”


Danielle Ribner

Fashion designer, and founder of Loup, New York

“It’d be great if we could depend on the government a little more to build our company. We’ve had to become extremely independent. I’m lucky that we’ve survived the pandemic but there are so many people without jobs who would be happy to come into a small company. If we had any money to do it, we would hire. A lot of small companies feel that way.”


Moddie Turay

Founder and CEO, City Growth Partners, Detroit

“Ensure that our city centres are diverse so that everyone has the opportunity to live next to their jobs, childcare centres and amazing schools. Here in Detroit you can find affordable housing somewhere in the city but that often comes at an additional cost: a lack of public transport, a lack of childcare, a lack of robust education choices. We need to ensure that people have a chance to contribute to their neighbourhoods as entrepreneurs, as business owners, as members of their community.”


Madeline Leung Coleman

Writer, Asian-American affairs

“A better America is one in which Asian-Americans demand progressive change – and not just on our own behalf. If anti-Asian hate crimes upset you, anti-blackness should upset you too and you should support Black Lives Matter. That could mean showing up to an action or donating money to organisations that support black communities. It could mean calling your elected officials and demanding that they support legislation that holds police accountable and gives relief to those who are struggling to pay the bills.”


Tom Nichols

Professor, Russia expert and author of ‘The Death of Expertise’

“US policy towards Russia since the 1990s has been adrift, alternating between warmth and hostility, and finally fearful surrender. The next US president can make clear that America will always be a friend to the Russian people but that we no longer harbour any illusions about Putin’s regime. This means re-establishing US leadership in Nato and also letting US law enforcement and intelligence communities off the leash and directing them to make the Kremlin pay the price for years of attacks on America and its allies.”


Mary ‘Missy’ Cummings

Professor, Duke University; former US navy pilot

“I’m concerned about the profound inability of government agencies to understand how to test, acquire, field or even form a clear understanding of what autonomy and artificial intelligence mean for safety-critical systems. We need a unified national capability that provides road maps, enables educational opportunities and promotes multi-agency collaborations, as well as establishing free and open standards of assessment.”


Sam Weaver

Mayor of Boulder, Colorado

“In Boulder we’re focusing on structural discrimination. This means working across the city to recognise the history of repression and trying to reverse it. That requires using what we call an equity lens. We’re working on this using Seattle’s mapping model, which takes into account different communities’ access to facilities, parks, transport and amenities. Cities can share this knowledge through the US Cities League and Conference of Mayors.”


Anthony Kennedy

Alderman, Kenosha,Wisconsin

“We have lost the ability to be empathetic. Empathy is one of the things I would ask for in the next president. We have to understand how people are living and experiencing things in our community. It might be fine on one side of the street; it might not be fine on the other side. Empathy will make you a better lawmaker.”


Sally Kohn

Activist, author and broadcaster

“Anger isn’t always bad. Anger at injustice? Anger at suffering? Anger at pain? When we think about the pandemic or the economy in this moment – and the protests against police violence against black bodies – people are angry about that. And that is righteous, healthy, necessary, constructive anger. Our country will be better for that kind of anger.”


Juan Williams

Co-host, ‘The Five’,Fox News

“Ambition drives America. A better US means a strong focus on young people dreaming of achieving their ambition. That starts with the opportunity to get a good education. So celebrate good schools. Best of all is the opportunity that comes when doors are open to good ideas.”


Ellen Dunham-Jones

Academic and urban planner, Atlanta

“Today the majority of American jobs, poverty and people are in the suburbs, not the cities. What if we had post-pandemic partnership funds to collaboratively plan for housing, environment, transport, education and investments in healthcare infrastructure. This will leverage telecommuting, tele-education and telemedicine so that we can become healthier, more equitable and more prosperous versions of ourselves.”


Yoichi Funabashi

Chairman,Asia Pacific Initiative

The US handling of maritime security challenges in the South China Sea during the terms of Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama was inept. Trump tried to address concerns by sending the US navy’s 7th fleet but China had already cemented its influence. The next president can’t afford to make another fatal mistake on Asian maritime-security issues.”


Genevieve Wood

Senior advisor, The Heritage Foundation think-tank

“Not enough discussion and debate is given to the thousands of decisions made by the federal government every day; how these actually affect the individual citizen. The two worldviews being put forth by the individual candidates are further apart than they’ve been in a long time. So the election is extremely consequential.”


Ben Rhodes

Co-host, ‘Pod Save the World’ and former adviser to Barack Obama

“The US has become paralysed by the conflict between its two stories: the nation that asserts a nostalgic exceptionalism anchored in exploitation, inequality and white supremacy; and the nation that embraces a progressive exceptionalism that’s shaped by a capacity to change our democracy and draw strength from diversity. Only by embracing our more progressive story can we promote equality, revitalise our economy, confront the climate crisis and represent values that offer meaning and solidarity to people around the globe.”


Drew and Paulina Deckman

Restaurateurs, Baja California, Mexico

“How about starting with more people growing some or all of their own food? There are so many suitable spaces in the US – why not use them to grow produce? Teaching our children how to grow their own food will ensure our reconnection to the earth and a healthier lifestyle.”


Diego Gómez Pickering

Former consul-general to Mexico in New York

“The past four years have been the most challenging for the Hispanic community, the US’s biggest and most-undervalued minority. To design a better America we need to acknowledge its Hispanic roots, dating to the 16th century, and support new immigrants from Latin America. Regardless of who gets into the White House, Hispanics will continue to make America great.”


Nathan Law

Hong Kong activist, now in the UK

“Defending liberty is not only for the people of Hong Kong but those who share the same democratic values. Hong Kong is symbolic in the clashes between authoritarianism and democracy. If it falls, we all fall.”


Anne Applebaum

Staffwriter, ‘The Atlantic’

“Ban tax havens and shell companies. Make sure that everybody who buys property uses their real name. Quadruple the number of people who work on white-collar, high-level fraud at the fbi, irs and the Treasury. And while we’re at it, make sure that the ultra-wealthy are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.”


Alice Waters

Activist and restaurateur, Berkeley

“If every school, college and university made food an important part of education, their collective and dependable buying power could transform our entire food system. If lunch was made from ingredients sourced from local farms, ranches and fisheries, communities would thrive and students would learn about health and their connection to nature. Climate change would be mitigated from the ground up.”


Sophia Yan

China correspondent, ‘The Daily Telegraph’

“Washington should think about how to interact, respond and engage with a changing China that is defying the world. But rather than alienating both friend and foe, Washington ought to rally its allies, many of whom would be happy to join efforts in pressing China over concerns such as espionage, human rights, cybersecurity and unfair trade practices.”


Chuck Hoskin Jr

Principal chief, Cherokee Nation

“Including more voices means having a government that reflects the diversity of the country. A better America, informed by a more robust and representative democracy, is one that understands that we have 574 federally recognised tribes in this country, each with its distinct culture, way of life and own sovereign government. This country needs to keep its promises to all of these tribes.”


Itonde A Kakoma

Crisis Management Initiative NGO, Helsinki

“A secure future for the US, its allies and the world cannot be obtained through force alone but via an investment in sustainable peace at home and abroad. The ability of the US to persuade conflict parties towards peace will depend on the extent to which democratic systems can withstand political change domestically.”


Margaret Brennan

Moderator, ‘Face the Nation’, CBS

“Listen, read and ask questions. The news organisations and the consumer both have a responsibility to be discerning. Reward fact and be sceptical of opinion. Journalism takes work while talk is cheap. A better America is one in which we all seek to understand.”


Art Cullen

Editor, ‘The Storm Lake Times’

“Retire one third of the row crops in Iowa – soy beans, corn, wheat, cotton – and plant grass instead. This is the cheapest, easiest way to sequester carbon emissions and attack the climate problem. There’s a provision in the federal farm bill that allows us to pay farmers to practise conservation farming. We could turn this on a dime if we had the political will.”


DeShanta Hairston

Owner, Books and Crannies, Martinsville,Virginia

“So often I see people dismissing and diminishing the way that other people feel about events going on in America; and it’s because they are not directly impacted by them. We cannot design a better America until everyone is willing to think about humanity as a whole, not just the things that directly affect them on a personal level.”


Hershell Ezrin

Former consul to Canada in New York and Los Angeles

“A strategic, outward-looking US programme to engage innovative technological, medical and economic prowess will not only offer the best chance of success in managing coronavirus responses and promoting broader economic recovery but it can also help America rebuild the eroded idea of trust upon which future relationships will rely.”


Dominique Crenn

Restaurateur, San Francisco

“My advice to the next president would be to listen. I think that it’s important to not only surround yourself with experts but also to reach out to everyday Americans to find out what they think, what they’re feeling and what they need. Politicians used to do it but it’s become a lost art.”


Ronald Wimberly

Cartoonist and illustrator, New York

“Good design starts with identifying problems at their root and also identifying the resources and tools at one’s disposal. The root of the US problem is economic inequity, both social and ecological. We need a fair contract with American people of all types and with our planet. The state needs to honour both.”


Robin Hutcheson

President, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Minnesota

“Federal standards for making transportation decisions and investments are outdated, leading to a car- centric model of pollution and inequity where people have no choices. We should be revising our models and overhauling our design books to not only favour but over-invest in transportation alternatives to reduce pollution, create access to opportunities and build great neighbourhoods, especially where these investments advance racial justice and economic prosperity. Our country should be one where transit is plentiful, streets are beautiful and the air is clean every day.”


Daniel Fried

Former US ambassador to Poland

“Start by reaffirming that America is not a nation rooted in blood but a ‘new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’ [as in the Gettysburg Address]. At home, that means shaking up the oligarchies of privilege that limit opportunities. Abroad, that means standing with other democracies on the side of freedom and justice.”


Katie Hyten

Co-director, Essential Partners, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Polarisation isn’t a natural phenomenon; it’s a design problem. The next president should invest in democratic systems that foster collaboration, inclusion and healthy communication across different identities and perspectives. When people feel heard, they’re less likely to fall prey to polarised conflict. When they feel seen in all their complexity, they’re less likely to stereotype people who are different from themselves. If we can embrace our differences, they will be this country’s greatest strength.”


Walter Hood

Landscape architect, Oakland

“Take responsibility for the racialised, separate and unequal planning and political practices of the 20th century. These created the postwar, redline communities, where there’s been the most disinvestment and the most marginalisation of brown people; there’s no way that the land will be of value unless we invest in it, with people in it. We need to admit that these places and problems exist.”

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