The phrase sends chills down my back with memories of math classes and phrases like “solve for X”
However, in the world of politics and current events, the viability of our democracy is at stake if we do not learn the value of Common Denominators. What follows is a lesson not in math but rather common denominators in politics with a healthy dose of pragmatism.
Every politician needs to list policy goals. What’s your plan, vision, proposal?
However, for every proposal to do something and spend something, there needs to be a countervailing proposal to cut waste, increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome regulations. Unfortunately, many persons ears only perk up when discussing what you will NOT do, what you will cut and what in their opinion is an over-reach of government. Their eyes glaze over when you discuss policies. They act like a deer in the headlights when you proposewhat what could be done and what should be done. Any position AGAINST something shouts louder than a position FOR something. So identify true cases of waste, over-regulation, ineptitude and inefficiency and lead with that so your ultimately positive policies can be implemented. Example: Make it clear that for employees who are not doing their job, sleeping on the job and expenditures on any boondogles (aka financial sink holes) will not be tolerated.
Concerning matters such as criminal justice, social justice, restorative justice and holistic solutions to vexing problems of crime and juvenile delinquency (all noble goals), there needs to be examples of consequences for misbehavior, social disorder and chaos. Make it clear that the political and policy equation includes equal parts compassion and consequences. What resonates with many persons is that justice has been served and there are consequences for the scoundrels. There’s a reason why the phrase “crime doesn’t pay” is so popular. Lead off with rational, reasonable consequences and compasionate solutions will follow. Prime example is allowing repeat offender car theft juveniles to be detained for longer timeframes by the police in one jurisdiction until it can be determined that they are not wanted in other jurisdictions for the same or other sorts of crimes.
Make it clear that you are not advocating solitary confinement but you are advocating intensive, theraputic confinement over an extended timeframe for all persons in the criminal justice system so we can get to the root causes of their anti-social behavior. Don’t just say for any violent offender or threatening offender “lock em up and throw away the key” but make it clear that they will be removed from society for an extended timeframe receiving intensive counselling until such time that they are deemed ready to return safely to society. Again, tough-love, compassion and consequences.
For every lofty goal expressed concerning the social safety net (making sure nobody freeses or starves, for example) there needs to be specific examples of accountability so the root causes of distress are addressed. Unfortunately, many persons are more concerned about the revolving door syndrome (aka, good money after bad) than the pervasiveness of hunger, homelessness, poverty, and economic inequity. Focus on mitigating the “frequent flier syndrome and revolving door scenario” of users of public services so their basic needs are met (primarilly food and shelter) while root causes of their circumstances are addressed. In sum, deploy tough-love tactics providing assistance while insisting upon participants active role in addressing circumstances that necessitated assistance in the first place.
Following the “common denominator” formula we can get the attention and build the trust of persons before we can get them on board the “train of progress” to address some of the more esoteric and long term solutions.