Following a long, and brutal presidential campaign, a sustained process of healing is essential for our politics. Failure to achieve this means years of paralysis in vital domestic and foreign programs. Where can we find common ground?

* COVID-19: The pandemic must be arrested. Preparations are vital to assure a swift, equitable distribution of a vaccine. Meanwhile, a unified national strategy to limit further spread is essential. This is a scientific issue, not a political one.

* RACISM: Our nation was founded on the lofty principle that all people are equal and possess "inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Our path to assuring these rights has been tortuous and marked with numerous, violent setbacks. Can we not agree that all lives matter? Can we not secure uniform, equal rights in education, housing, law enforcement and employment?

* HEALTH CARE: While steadily attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA), opponents have not offered an alternative. Surely, we can agree, that in this era of exploding costs, we must have a national program that provides access for all people to the best health care the country offers. Where disease and injury are concerned, we can have no second-class citizens, no haves and have-nots.

For the ACA or any national health plan to succeed, everyone must participate. States must agree to uniform Medicaid programs instead of the current program that allows some states to ignore many of their poor citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in our public health programs, which must be upgraded to respond swiftly to the next, inevitable crisis.

* EDUCATION: In a world that is undergoing rapid technological change, students must prepare for workplaces that may change repeatedly during their careers. Too often, we see sharp divides between educational offerings within cities or between cities and rural areas. Ready access to the internet is crucial for all students. Can we not devise an equivalent of the highly successful Rural Electrification Administration of the 1930s? This program brought electric power to rural areas of the nation. Let us do the same for internet connectivity. Can we not fold the offerings of community colleges into every school system in the country? Can we not construct federal student loan programs that assure borrowers a fair interest rate and lengthy periods of repayment?

With rapid changes in industries, education must encompass job retraining for people displaced by economic upheavals in their workplaces. Our system of community colleges is the logical site for such training.

* FOREIGN AFFAIRS: A fragile, conflicted world needs our active participation. During the past four years, we have surrendered much of our international leadership. Isolation within an interconnected world doesn't work. We should rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO), the only public health agency that monitors and responds to epidemics. WHO works to contain malaria, tuberculosis and other illnesses that continually threaten global health.

The Paris Climate Accord needs our participation because of its agenda to address global warming, a crisis that transcends all others.

We should pledge our unequivocal support to the North American Treaty Organization, which binds us with other nations that seek to protect democracy.

Foreign aid is repeatedly bashed by isolationists, who falsely inflate the costs. In the past, the U.S. led responses to international disasters, whether due to storms or famine. Economic and technical assistance can stabilize weak, foreign economies. Aid targeted to Central American countries can lessen waves of people fleeing to the US.

We need to welcome students from abroad as well as immigrants with research and technical skills from which our country benefits.

These and other issues deserve careful analysis and discussion rather than partisan gridlock.

Contact Clif Cleaveland at