Reader’s Forum — Jessie Fields

Some Thoughts Beyond The Politics Industry

I very much agree with the authors of The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter, that the prescription for innovation is “to change the machinery of politics – to change the rules that govern elections and legislating.”

And I also wish, as I believe Katherine Gehl does as well, for us to reach beyond reform to transformation of the laws, rules and operations of the political process.

We as a country are in the midst of tremendous social upheaval, a maelstrom moment described by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his leading essay in the September issue of Vanity Fair as “The Great Fire.” He writes not only of “the fire,” the ongoing horror of racism and its inhumanity and brutality but also of its glaring public exposure and the uprising against it, “the light.”

A thousand Eric Garners will be tolerated, so long as they are strangled to death in the shadows of the American carceral system, the most sprawling gulag known to man.”

Breonna Taylor is on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine because she was killed by police. It became publicly known about three months after her death that she was killed while lying in her bed in Louisville, Kentucky after the police stormed into her apartment. If Breonna Taylor were alive she would not be on the cover of Vanity Fair. She was an ordinary, beautiful, vibrant young Black woman with high aspirations for her future. All wiped out in a storm of bullets. Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, shares some of her daughter’s life story in the magazine. A piercing question before her family and all the families who have lost loved ones to racist violence, is how is it the continued fate of our people to be called upon to lead in the face of such trauma and pain and how have so many sustained the courage to do so. We as a people, all the American people, need to build togetherness and we have a great deal to learn from these examples of personal courage.

We do need “innovation that is transformative as” the book, The Politics Industry, calls for and to me that transformation has to include transforming the structural racism, segregation, the anti-poor and anti-people of color practices that are inherent in the policies set by the current established political processes. We have to dismantle the top down control, and the ways “we the people” are polarized into warring camps. A cultural transformation is also necessary, one that engages all of us in the process of collective human development and recreating our country.

I believe that as independents and as human beings of any color we ought to always support and speak out for social justice and actively build a multiracial political movement that is deeply connected to the long struggles of people of color in America to remake our democracy to be inclusive of all Americans. We continue on that journey.

Dr. Jessie Fields is a physician practicing in Harlem, and a Board member at Independent Voting and Open Primaries.


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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

2 thoughts on “Reader’s Forum — Jessie Fields

  1. Many of us in the independent movement have been fighting for changing the process for many years and love how the book spells out the urgent need to change it. However, I thought a cultural aspect was missing and did not know how to articulate that which is why I so enjoyed Jessie’s piece.

    I also enjoyed how the author’s walk you through the history of reform describing little known or talked about changes to the process. Lastly, it was good to read something that is not doom and gloom and teaches that we are in an historical moment where change can happen that is positive.

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