March 4, 2020

All the President's Men


Globalization, with its undisputed opportunities and benefits, raises inescapable moral challenges.  These challenges in turn present dilemmas for leaders, particularly in establishing and executing strategic goals in a way that creates sustainable value while addressing the competing value claims of diverse stakeholders.  The global population expects todays’ leaders to incorporate claims of religious, cultural, and ethnic values in adapting to both external challenges of climate change, resource shortages, pandemic pathogens, financial volatility, economic insecurity, and political instability as well as internal challenges from political rivals.

To be effective, leaders need tools for engaging the visceral dimensions of human values and moral will in moving forward to accomplish our national agenda. The competing demands of globalization can cause leaders to lose sight of their own moral compass.  Moreover, those accustomed to persuasion or coercion rather than through rational argument bolstered by quantitative analysis and the moral anchor of their personal values can find themselves unequipped for the challenges of leadership in a global arena of competing and conflicting value claims. They can be confounded by the discovery that even carefully crafted deliberative decisions may be sabotaged, undermined, or ignored by stakeholders who were part of a decision process. The diversity of contemporary global cultures can militate against moral clarity and solidarity when the epistemic frameworks and moral understanding of diverse wisdom become barriers to achieving common moral ground.



The coronavirus pandemic is one such example where the professionals and politicians surrounding our President have failed him.  We have had dubious actors surrounding a President in prior administrations, but none have been as complicit as this group of glad handers.   Globalization creates complex moral challenge that leaders of nations cannot ignore.  The uncertainties, risks, and dangers facing the world are well understood and the related moral challenges of globalization have been well established.   Threats associated with globalization also offer benefits and opportunities, at least to some, that can outweigh or diminish the sense of urgency.  Some accepted their position because of the promise of future greatness.  Our vice president will surely be a leading contender in 2024 should our current president be re-elected.  Most are there for no other reason than the promise of untold personal wealth accumulation!

Transnational threats such as environmental degradation, disease, famine, water shortage, and population migration represent temporary but tractable obstructions on the pathway to global peace and prosperity for some wealthier stakeholders. These conditions also waste human lives, threaten the world’s ecosystem, and disrupt local economies.  The scope and complexity of threats such as these constitute conditions of moral urgency that test the leadership capacity of the world’s nations and institutions.   The United States typically has responded to these threats through public discourse of moral persuasion designed to create sustained political will for developing policies that will protect its citizens first and the global population second.  Instead we are mired in a polarized discourse between the wealthy currently surrounding the administration and the rest of us.  This standoff has resulted in a contested judgment about the right course of action – and the urgency of the problem!  



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