Numerous unresolved dilemmas have characterized the beginning of the 21st century. They include the rise of transnational religious fundamentalist networks, asymmetric warfare, the Internet, globalization, terrorism, nationalism, mass shootings and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Albert Einstein once said: “Without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current pattern of thought,” (Einstein, 2018). Therefore, conventional formulations and solutions based on the “logic of the day” are inadequate to deal with new problems.
In order for society, government, and business to deal with evolving complex situations, a societal transformation must take place. This transformation must be based on a different paradigm and grounded in collaborative thinking. Once thought to be the biggest asset of this democratic melting pot experiment, diversity may be at the center of our demise. The entire world is watching as the once impenetrable armor of the USA begin to show signs of wear.
Adversaries who once feared us have devised ways to influence our elections and fan the flames of distrust. This has led to conflicts along racial line and caused in fighting as more and more our citizenry adopt selfish “me first” defensive postures. This mindset has caused entire segments of our population to mistrust those who are different. In 2016, Russian operatives launched a propaganda campaign designed to further polarize groups on a several demographic levels. At the height of the elections the effectiveness of this tactic became eerily obvious. Donald Trump became President and the Republican congress provided concessions to the Russian government that would not have occurred if the election results were different.
As a country we have not recovered from the effects of the Russian meddling. Russian billionaires who once had their assets frozen and faced criminal charges are now significant investors in the economic recovery in Kentucky. There is more distrust and ill will than almost any time in our history. Minorities, Muslims, immigrants and citizens born in third world countries have been deemed unworthy of occupying the “New America”. The motivation behind the political dog whistles and the identity laden political discourse is greed and power. 2014 marked the first time in history that the majority of congressional members had a net worth of over 1 million dollars. When Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that corporations are people too, they guaranteed that congressional wealth would have no ceiling.
As surely as the Mississippi River flows from north to south, money in politics flows to where the power is. Individuals and interest groups will give campaign contributions to politicians in the best position to advance their causes. It stands to reason that incumbents get vastly more than challengers, committee chairmen and legislative leaders get more than ordinary members, and parties in power get more than parties in the minority. Politicians no longer represent their districts, they manipulate them and use complex marketing tactics to bend constituent opinions against their own best interests.
The United States is in need of a transformation. The country that once touted free and open elections for all has fallen to 26th in the Democracy Index which measures political participation and democracy. According to the 2018 study conducted by The Economist, the United States public is frustrated by partisan politics that features political agendas focused on blocking legislation as opposed to actual policy enactment, ( The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited , 2019). Only 18% of eligible voters believe congress is doing an acceptable job. This apathy is mostly responsible for the United States dropping from a rating of full democracy to flawed democracy on the Democracy Index. The 2018 mid-term elections signaled the makings of a transformative culture but the day to day controversial rhetoric has slowed some of the transformative zeal.
What the United States needs is a leader who can unify the various factions that have been developed and nurtured by a political system that thrives on a divided electorate. A leader who can remind the country that practically all who live here are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. One who focuses on the strengths that emerge from our disparate ancestral backgrounds. James McGregor Burns who was a presidential biographer as well as a renowned leadership scholar is widely credited with introducing the term transformational leadership, (Burns, 1978). According to Burns, transformational leaders have the ability to inspire the masses to previously unrealized levels of morale and motivation. Transformational leaders use their personality and vision to inspire followers to grow and develop into leaders. They accomplish this by responding to individual followers' needs and empowering them. Such leaders are excellent at aligning the objectives and goals of the leader, the individual, the community, and the nation. Can you imagine the global impact the United States would have if each of us focused our efforts on a unified agenda?
Research shows that transformational leaders are typically energetic, enthusiastic, passionate and deeply involved in the process. They are also focused on the well-being of everyone with in the country regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, ability or any other demographic. A transformational leader would energize and recharge the populous. Hopefully a leader with a transformative agenda and personality will emerge. We can only hope!
About the writer:
Life Coach & leadership development expert Doug Heath has one core message: success is dependent upon maintaining positive attitudes, setting goals and working toward those goals with unyielding determination. Doug is President of DJH Consulting whose focus is to help individuals and organizations create positive change and foster actions that turn goals into reality. Heath’s 35 years’ experience as a change agent gives him perspective and insight that few possess. Using his wealth of knowledge and experience, Heath has coached and trained thousands of professionals who were seeking to achieve life altering goals. DJH Consulting uses a unique delivery methodology that is based on spaced repetition. Studies show that human beings learn best by being immersed in a subject over a period of time as opposed to a single exposure.