Forgive me for diverting from my normal commentary on business, leadership, sales, marketing, and customer experience. I hardly feel qualified to speak about politics. Yet, I’m a proud American Citizen, and feel I can no longer remain silent.
I’m ashamed of our government. It’s a horrible thing for anyone to express about their government–particularly when they are elected officials. But I’m sick and tired of the pettiness, bullying, taunting, selfish, and childish behaviors we see in our government.
It’s not just the Executive Office, but also, of our senators, congress people, and many of the bureaucrats in all parts of the government. My shame is not limited to those representing a specific political party. Republicans, Democrats, Independents are equally at fault.
We seem to have reached an extreme, it didn’t start on January 20, 2017, but seems to have accelerated since then. It’s been something that has been getting increasingly worse over years and is not just attributable to partisan politics.
What makes America and Americans great is our openness to ideas, culture, diversity, beliefs, religion, gender, race, and people. We have been a country focused on inclusion rather than exclusion. Inherently, the “national mindset” has been a growth oriented mindset, not a closed mindset.
As a nation, we have collectively tried to focus on doing what is right, even when as individuals, it may be different from what we want.
Our country was founded with these principles. We stumble mightily in practicing them, and every once in a while lose sight of them.
Over time, we somehow find our way back. We learn to listen openly to different points of view. We recognize where we may have been wrong and change our positions, all striving to get better, to improve the lives of our citizens, and the people who live in our country. We strive to set an example for others in the world to be more open, to be more inclusive, to help make the lives of people in other countries better.
It’s a fairly simple set of principles established by our founding fathers; sometimes tested, but we always come back to these basic principles. Our ability to come together, despite our differences, despite the challenges, has always been what makes America great. Our tolerance of differences and recognition they these differences enable us to learn and improve is what makes America great.
Yet our government, egged on by the media, seem to have lost this idea. Our leaders in government seemed to have lost willingness to understand differences, to be open to other points of view, to engage in new ideas. Our leaders seem to have lost the willingness to engage each other in order to reconcile these differences, to seek common ground and together arrive at a better solution. They are not displaying the characteristics and behaviors of what makes America and Americans great. Collectively, their mindsets seem to have become closed, when out times demand open/growth mindsets.
Daily we see our leaders exhibit behaviors that would not be tolerated from our children. We see bullying from all sides. We see taunting, stubborn blindness, pettiness, conceit and selfishness. We see leaders who are unwilling to listen to differing views, who only care about those who share their opinions and views.
Instead of getting together to solve problems, they boycott, exclude, stamp their feet in stubborn resistance, resorting to name calling and taunts. The daily temper tantrums, preening for attention and approval is not what one expects from mature adults, let along our leaders.
Even worse, this unacceptable behavior is infecting our society. Daily, we see people, lashing out at each other, declaring the other wrong, portraying other un-American (when ironically, it’s our differences that make us very American). They mirror the unacceptable behaviors of our leaders, failing to listen, understand, learn, reconcile; they are consumed with intolerance and their own points of view.
Fortunately, I believe this is not representative of the majority of Americans. America and Americans are great, but greatness can’t be assumed, we always have to work for it, we have to learn and grow. Unfortunately, our leaders have not chosen greatness, instead focusing on selfishness and pettiness.
But they work for us. I, and I hope you, can no longer sit idly, watching or complaining. We need to be phoning and talking to our elected representatives frequently. Making sure they understand the shame we feel with their behavior, making sure they understand it is unacceptable to continue.
Whatever side of the issues you are on, we need our leaders to understand it is their jobs to come together and openly discuss, resolve, and move forward together. We need to make sure they know they are expected to display the behaviors of what makes America and Americans great. We need to make sure they understand that we expect them to continue doing the things that have made America great and bring out the greatness in all of us.
As ashamed as I am of the behaviors of our governmental leaders, I don’t despair. I realize this is a huge opportunity for me, and for any who sit passively, to be more actively engaged in directing our leaders and to continue to show the greatness we possess as Americans. Perhaps, the greatest learning from what’s going on, is that as citizens, we can’t sit idly hoping our elected officials will do the right thing. We have to be actively engaged in directing them to serve us and not themselves.
No single leader, or our collected elected/appointed representatives can, “make America great.” We are great through the collected actions and engagement of our 300 million people. We will continue to build our greatness through our collective actions and contributions. And through our collective example, other nations and people will be inspired to achieve their own greatness.