Notes from the Underground:

Mary Lee Johnson
8 min readNov 9, 2022


The 21st-Century Agenda (Revised for 2022!)

21st Century Agenda

I thought this would be a fitting and appropriate release for the days leading up to the next election cycle. There has been much hand-wringing regarding the demise of our democracy. And many on ‘both sides’ of the aisle feel that their vision or dream or their personal belief system is slipping away.

We have a plethora of history on our side that tells us that we can make it through the darkest times. Just listen to the excerpts from the wonderful writer and “The Atlantic”editor James Fallows. He & his wife travelled across America in recent years and document their faith and belief in the American people.

John Steinbeck also wrote about some of America’s defining problems and the dark heart of our democracy in an essay that was recently re-published. And his wonderful book on his travels through America with his elderly poodle “Charley’ are definitely some of the best recorded writings on American life perhaps since de Tocqueville!

The list here is a ‘wish list’ for those of us who were so disappointed and demoralized by the election of Donald Trump. We felt that our hopes and dreams were dashed. And the American Political system had let us down also. So we gathered ourselves and we fought back and won the next election cycle.

That is part of the normal American system designed to work with the ebbs and flows of the American voting electorate. The idea that we will not count certain votes or simply declare some elections null and void is not part of the system. It was not designed for those who would like to simply break the system.

With that in mind, for those who may feel demoralized or disheartened, simply remember that the American Ideal is something that is not part of the far-right culture or the far-leftist extremes. It is an idea that people still want to adhere to and to believe in. And that is why we keep working to save and to pursuit the American Dream. We feel it is an idea worth fighting for…

The 21st Century American Agenda (revised from 2016!)

The 21st Century America Agenda is shown in stark Resistance to the Policies of Trump and his cronies. What we voted for when we voted for Hillary (or a Progressive Candidate) has not died with her loss. They are listed below along with the addendums from the current political season.

With each of these things, we have always been able to at least tell everyone All is not lost. And that is where we stand. We are now entering a different era where the Trump-ist policies have given way to those who now openly are trying to end the democracy! That is another level where we are now clearly recognizing the ground upon which the next fight will begin. Our democracy is worth the fight!

List of Ten Ideas that were listed as the 21st Century Agenda…(from 2016)

Number One:

ER: An Energy Revolution- Solar and Renewable Energy investment

The democracy has been fighting back against the Climate Deniers, who would like to tell us facts don’t matter, science doesn’t matter, and the future health of the planet doesn’t matter! We have begun to make the investments needed, and even the most skeptical of eco-watchers has been able to take heart in the fact that we have laid out the investment in our children’s future!

Number Two:

ROOT: Root out Racism and stand up for Voting Rights

In this, we have not been able to make the progress we wanted to make. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act was not able to pass in the Senate. However, the principles for which Lewis lived and fought are still part of the struggle we face going forward.

Number Three:

PPP: People Powering Productivity-Minimum Wage and Income Equality

The pandemic has sped up the wheels of progress in terms of those who have been fighting for a living wage for decades. However, Income Inequality remains something that we need to address. The “Millionaire’s Tax’ is still worth implementing to address the unnatural gap that has opened up in the past fifty years between corporate CEO’s and middle-class workers.

Addendum 2022: Income Inequality also includes Pay Equity for women. And that includes women who are in the economic crossfire when they overturned Roe v Wade!

Number Four:

PINOT: Peace In Our Time-Promoting Peace; Making Conflict Resolution Minister a Cabinet Level position as we work towards resolving conflict

The Ukraine War has been the one area where most Americans have agreed we must come together. The fight for freedom and the need to live a peaceful life is something we can all recognize and promote as American Values.

Number Five:

Affordable College: Continuing to promote College Affordability and working towards lowering existing Student Debt

President Biden is working to try and address Student Debt. Because we had a Democratic Congress, we have been able to pass some of these measures. We can hope that not simply the Left, but young people and independents & those Repubs who still believe in a balanced and fair democratic way of life will work to lower costs and to help eliminate student debt and increase college affordability.

ADDENDUM 2022: The higher education model also includes Affirmative Action-which is addressed under race policies that also will need to be addressed if & when the Supreme Court eliminates Affirmative Action policies.

Number Six:

Health Care for All: Supporting the ACA and working to lower Prescription Drug costs and strengthening our existing laws

The Biden Administration is also supporting the ACA- The Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare.” However, if there is a change in our leadership, we will again be fighting for the basic rights of health care in this country. The Democrats were able to pass the Prescription Drug bill that the GOP is now threatening to strip away!

We believe health care is a right. Almost all the advanced & developed nations of the world believe in health care as a right for their citizens. We are still working on this principle and working to one day even extend Medicare to include more Americans and to help people choose affordable insurance and health-care plans.

ADDENDUM:(**We didn’t include Roe v Wade because at the time (2016) no one thought that Roe would be overturned in 2022. But it did happen, and health care is a huge component of the choice element for women’s rights to choose….and freedom!)

Number Seven:

Consumer Protection: Supporting the Dodd-Frank act and the Consumer Protection Bureau; working to hold Big Banks and Corporations accountable

Not only have we not been able to hold big business accountable, there is now a concerted effort to undo Medicare and Social Security that is coming from Dark Money and big lobbying factions. This is all part of the right-wing assault on our freedoms that has been accelerated by the Citizens United Ruling. Banks are not held accountable, big oil has not been held accountable, and the Dark Money continues unabated.

Number Eight:

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

If this had been passed years ago by John Boehner, we may have not been subjected to the Trump Administration! Immigration Reform was agreed upon in the Senate, and Marco Rubio reneged on his support for the bill. So the right-wing is now cowering because of Trump & his imaginary Build the Wall plan where Mexico was going to pay for it! Remember that old laugh line?

Addendum 2022: Immigration policy in this country needs to be addressed. And instead of stunts where buses of poor and innocent immigrants are being used as political pawns, perhaps someone in government can devise a plan where immigrants are tracked. Fast-tracked for deportation or given extended visas to work and check in and go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship. A solution may also include the idea of placing people in areas where non-profits and agencies may help them instead of trying to use humans as pawns to boost some politicians standing with other cruel people.

Number Nine:

Sensible Gun Control Laws: Background checks and getting assault rifles out of the hands of criminals

This has continued to the point where it is criminal. The GOP defense of the NRA is criminal. And children are dying because of it. Uvalde could not have occurred without the assault rifles that the GOP has allowed to flow freely into the hands of young men who are unbalanced & unchecked.

Addendum: We did at one time ban assault weapons. We could do this again. How many times does a man look down, and pretend that he just doesn’t see? How many people will have to die for this insane policy of guns unlimited?

Number Ten:

21st Century America: Working towards the goal of strengthening our existing laws, our Trade Laws for hard-working Americans and more….

The Trump Tariffsremember them? They are still out there and still hurting Americans. The Biden Administration has passed Infrastructure and strengthened our ties with allies globally, but the harm that the Trump Administration did by gutting federal agencies and working to destabilize our voting system is something that will be with us for a good long while!

Notes for our Right-Leaning Friends and Neighbors

This is obviously a list for left-leaning voters who favor sensible and moderate policies that protect people. We all want the same things for our children’s future. Safe streets, good jobs, and a chance for happiness. We all want to live a life with a future of freedom and prosperity.

There should be safe neighborhoods and community services available for everyone. People should not try to look down on their neighbors because of who they love or who they voted for! This is not the type of American Dream that we thought we were striving to create. The dark world of American Carnage was the creation of the few, and it doesn’t reflect the reality or the ideal for most Americans. It is a dark and nightmarish scenario envisioned to frighten and inculcate fear into the masses.

Right Wing Indoctrination

Fox News is one of many instigators of fear and hatred and anger. I recall a friend telling me after the election of Obama, that she became afraid after watching the news on Fox nightly. This has been pounded into a portion of the electorate for at least a decade or more…No wonder those who watch Fox & other right-wing outlets don’t know what to believe! They have been told that all MSM (Main-stream media) is filled with lies. And the only truth is found in what they already have heard on their funnels of information.

The 21st-Century agenda was created to be an agenda that didn’t focus on the right-wing or the left. It wasn’t created for Democrats or Republicans. It was created for Americans to see and to choose a path forward that will lead us into the future. We are all living in the future, as this list was created in 2016! And it should give us time to just pause and think of how quickly time flies and how much is left to do to leave a lasting legacy of peace and prosperity for future generations.



Mary Lee Johnson

Author of five books, & blogger at 6 Degrees Writer…