We have a disinformation war in America – a scare tactic led by our political parties and politicians. It is sad to return home and hear “I can make America great again” from Presidential candidates. America is great today.
America is the most powerful nation on earth. America is the most charitable nation on earth. Americas remains a country whose wealth and power is generated from people with new ideas raised in middle class families, not recycled from aristocratic families or stolen from the state by corrupt politicians. The number of people that want to move to America is 100 times greater than the number that want to leave. The essence of America’s might – the disruptive creativity of our entrepreneurs is stronger than ever.
Compared to any other large nation in this ever changing world, America’s problems are small.
What is not great in America is the political process. We are disgusted by the patronizing clichés that stultify the consciousness of Americans. We are desperate for leaders of character to replace the cult of personality. It is painful to watch a circus masquerading as a presidential election. Our debate stage looks a collection of jukeboxes – each playing whatever song someone pays for.
Our world is changing. Hundreds of millions of people are being lifted out of poverty. New economies are growing. New technologies are changing all facets of life. New sources of energy are emerging. The climate is warming and waters levels are rising. Western populations are aging, while others experience rapid growth.
America is changing. The collaborative economy is changing the relationship between business and employee, disrupting how we pay for basic healthcare services. Technology is creating efficiencies in many sectors, while institutional interests make education and healthcare increasingly unaffordable. Food costs have fallen but we aren’t sure what we are eating. The national debt keeps rising.
America’s international leadership is noble. We are not trying to colonize the world, we are trying to help.
But what battles can we win and which are not ours to fight ? What did we do so well in helping Germany emerge into democracy ? What can we learn from our mistakes ? If a Presidential candidate does not know the story of CIA and Mohammed Mosaddegh or the Skyes-Picot agreement, they have no business leading our country. Our memories need to be as long as the people who lived for generations in repression.
As a nation we have lots to talk about. Where is the vision ? Where are the ideas ? How do we adjust our sails so the winds of change are at our back ?
Almost 200 years ago, Nathaniel Willis described how easy it was to recognize an American on the streets of Paris. They had “an independent, self-assured bearing of a man unused to looking up to anyone as being superior in rank”.
We still have that distinguishing feature and the answer for political candidates to look us in the eye and discuss the issues of our times. We will always disagree on policy, but we can unite around leadership that places our dignity above their selfish ambition. Americans will never settle for a country run by aristocrats or billionaires.
America is still built on virtue. Our millennials are excellent students of hypocrisy. They care about much more than money. In every walk of life Americans voluntarily follow leaders of wisdom, purpose and character.
John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, told his granddaughter Caroline “the longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough”.
These are the characteristics the people of our great nation are silently screaming for. Nature abhors a vacuum. Never in my lifetime has the vacuum of American political leadership been greater. In the end, America usually gets it right. I hope we don’t have to wait until 2020.