From its very founding, the architects of a successful republic have to get certain things right in order for the new enterprise to survive and thrive. Some things have to come first. In their approximate order of urgency, let’s consider solutions to the following challenges. Figure 1-1 illustrates these 10 basic components, or sub-systems, of a thriving republic.
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
More and more Americans have started asking, “Does anybody in politics really care about the country any more? What happened to the statesmen, the thought leaders, the compromisers, the dealmakers?” Public opinion polls consistently show that Americans no longer respect or trust their political leaders. A recent poll showed Congress with an approval rating of just 18 percent.
Meanwhile, the news industry, with its addiction to conflict as the standard model for framing the big stories, now relentlessly simplifies, personalizes, and amplifies the differences that divide the various factions.
The practical effect of this paralyzing conflict and deadlock in so many aspects of the political process means that we don’t get the big things done. And without the respect and approval of the public, how can we mobilize energy and commitment for the big challenges we face?
Meanwhile, antagonistic foreign governments enjoy watching us acting like our own worst enemies.