by Carl Hunt
Well, I’m actually talking about two kinds of momentum in this long-delayed post: the momentum slipping away from the Founders’ dream; and admittedly my own. As the primary author of this blog, it’s my responsibility to find the motivation and momentum in “my inner being” to post something meaningful at least once a month…that was the goal starting this out last February.
Events of the past two months dampened my motivation a wee bit. I didn’t lose it…I just misplaced it. Chuck, my brother and coauthor, and I will find it again soon (see the ending of this post), but for the time being, I’m afraid it’s lying underneath a pile of books and papers on my desk.
One reason for that pile on my desk is that I was fortunate to get back to a paying job. Since this new work is for the United States government, Chuck and I have been trying to figure out what we can say and how we can say it while still making the occasional comment (blog post) about how much America has been disconnected from its promise and its leaders.
We still passionately believe in our nation and the experimental system that was put in place in 1789 to make it work in a world that was quite unsteady at the time. In spite of our politicians’ hubris today in thinking they know better about how to run a government in 2014 than the Framers did back then, it’s still an experiment…the world is no less unsteady today either. Americans lose track of that too often.
The bottom line is that the Framers developed a way of thinking about national and international affairs that was novel for their time; that’s why their approach was different than anything other nations were doing in the late 18th Century. Our politicians, courts and statesmen need to do the same thing for our time.
In truth, the United States is more of a laboratory for freedom, security and prosperity now than it was 225 years ago. This is a big factor in why we gravitated towards documents like The National Strategic Narrative by Wayne Porter and Puck Mykeby. As we noted, the “Narrative” recognizes the need to become more flexible and adaptive in this day and age and restart a dialogue among Americans about what’s important today. The Narrative offers to reexamine the empirical evidence we’ve gathered during the first 225 years of our nation’s “Great Experiment.”
Now on to my momentum misplacement: I won’t say that the election of November, 2014 inhibited my momentum but it does give me pause when I hear certain politicians say “the American people have spoken.” The evidence I observed in the post-election analyses indicated that most of the American people in fact did not speak (at least very loudly, not at 39.6% of the eligible electorate). For either party to keep claiming that “the American people have spoken” when so few actually did is childish and speaks to how poorly our politicians are at motivating Americans to be a part of our experiment.
That really shouldn’t be a momentum killer for any of us, however. It should offer us all a challenge to embrace the experimentation of our Founders and Reconnect to the American Promise. This is where our politicians should also be focusing: creating new and fresh opportunities for more people to succeed in achieving the American Promise and be part of our nation’s experiment. This is how our nation will regain the momentum our Founders established.
As for me, I’ll start clearing my desk more often and find my own momentum again. In fact, my friend Walt Natemeyer, about whom I wrote last March, has agreed to team up on a blog post soon that will address two important functions of leaders, political and otherwise: creating shared vision and developing a framework for common agreement, both critical duties of leaders that those in our Congress have apparently forgotten in recent years. Chuck and I are looking forward to collaborating with Walt on this project.
A Postscript: A bit unrelated to the post above, we just read a New York Times blog post entitled “Social Media Deepens Partisan Divides. But Not Always.” This post was based in part on a slightly dated paper called “Ideological Segregation Online and Offline” (which does offer empirical evidence, by the way…the kind of evidence that politicians should also be looking for). Both pieces were encouraging, particularly about our younger Americans. It appears that the battle between polarized media outlets may not be as good for channelizing Americans as some politicians had hoped. That’s good news for all of us as it offers to keep alive our critical need to Reconnect to the American Promise.
Originally posted by Carl W. Hunt, 11/21/2014.