We just established a new page on the website to introduce the initial draft of the Principles of FAPITCA. Our last post, Preamble for Principles, looked forward to the introduction. Our post today is also forward-looking: we’re looking forward to feedback, commentary and most importantly, your help to get these principles refined and more valuable to the work of Fulfilling the American Promise in the Connected Age.
Sometimes, metaphor and analogy help to describe the way complex interactions produce meaningful outcomes. These literary tools can explain why something is important yet hard to describe at the same time. We’re using those tools in this post to introduce the Principles of FAPITCA.
Here’s the big picture:
We believe that most Americans (far more than the “majority”) are looking for a fundamental change to the way we conduct our political affairs at all levels. Americans are looking for our elected leaders to make decisions and actually lead, rather than avoid tackling hard problems because an election is “only” seven months away. We’re all losers in the current approach to government, but the biggest loser in the current way we do the business of the public is our middle class.
With few exceptions, literature and media of the last few years authoritatively tell us that the middle class is routinely losing ground, along with poorer Americans seeking the opportunity to climb into the middle class. The bottom line: No middle class—no opportunity…no America as we grew up to know it.
It’s also a matter of return on investment. The adversarial climate in Congress and too many state houses have fostered a political environment that no citizen of this nation should feel good about investing in. If we pay taxes, whether to the IRS, at the department store or even at the gas pump, we have to doubt the worthiness of the investment we’re making in politics and policy today.
It’s a safe bet we didn’t mean for our investments to empower the conflicts in the Congress and other elected offices of state and local government that “govern” in America (this doesn’t imply the Administration is off the hook, either). The return on too much of our invested tax dollars is hugely in doubt.
We must shift these politically-based conflicts away from being a two-team, winner-take-all competition into which the politics of today have sunk. Somehow, we have to wake up to the reality that we’re all on the same team…that we must practice and play on the local, national and international levels as though we were on the same team.
Though we may favor different solutions to the challenges we face, we are not each other’s enemy. The common enemy we face is the decline of the nation we love.
Here’s a football analogy to help explain the way we see this (sorry…we’re from Texas, remember).
Football and Politics: Not just a Texas thing
The field on which we play is an international arena because that’s the way it is in the connected age…everything’s interconnected to us, including our adversaries. But it’s not really some other nation that’s holding us back from scoring on our current field of play. No, it’s our internal strife that’s holding us back from moving downfield towards the goal line.
Our real challenge is that there are a lot of interacting and competing interests that distract our attention from moving the ball downfield and scoring: this freezes us from deciding the next play. But, every play we run (or don’t) has consequences for America. The opposition doesn’t want us to win because they prefer to see America decline. In fact, to us, American decline is the real opposition…decline is the “team” on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Some of us may want to pass the ball and some of us may want to run the ball, or even kick. But we have to keep in mind what the real adversary is, and figure out how to beat the decline, not each other. We can’t keep fighting about whether to run or pass. A team at war with itself is a losing team.
We have to get back in the huddle, look each other in the eye as fellow Americans, communicate, decide upon and execute a winning play. We have to do this repeatedly, every play, every day!
Our teammates who can’t perform in this huddle and on the line need to head to the bench and cheer the rest of us on to solve our nation’s problems. Any teammate who criticizes another team member for speaking with and compromising with fellow Americans needs to sit the play out on the bench…they’re costing us the game, whether they mean to or not.
Of course, it isn’t really a game, is it? This is our American way of life at stake. It’s the life of the nation we love. We owe it to our family, our friends and to all Americans to execute a winning course of action.
Whether on “the field” or off, many of us from varied political perspectives have great ideas. The trouble today is that we can’t nurture and harvest the best ideas when we can’t even speak to each other. We don’t need “conservative” solutions or “liberal” solutions…we need the “best” American solutions that we can all embrace and make work. That’s the American way to get return on investment!
The Objectives section of the Principles of FAPITCA discusses the complementary actions of competition and compromise. Together, they are the energizing components of our political process and indeed American capitalism. Understanding and leveraging this fact is how we can work our way out of the swamp in which we find ourselves.
Briefly back to the analogy…
Here’s How We “Tackle” the Problem and Score:
First off, let’s get back in the game. Let’s all contribute to Fulfilling the American Promise in the Connected Age by first playing the same game and by playing for the same team. Let’s energize the Center of America and use the best tools of democracy and capitalism—competition and compromise—as complements.
Secondly, we’re done with analogy and metaphor for the time being. From here on, we talk specifics like Mission, Values, Principles and Objectives. We’ll discuss how to operationalize these specifics. FAPITCA is about practical solutions that bring us together in the new American Center. The blog posts that follow this one will expand on the Principles document and reflect your ideas and comments. Time for you to get involved now!
Originally Posted by Carl and Chuck Hunt, 2/20/2014