We seem to be living in a period where it’s become the norm for the USA’s highest level elected officials to create melodrama in order to distract folks from the destruction of institutions that made America great in the first place. Ask people in other countries what they admire/respect most about America and they will, without hesitation, mention public schools and higher education, quality healthcare, environmental safeguards, freedom of the press as well as religion and America’s amazing National Park System. Aren’t those also things Americans should care about? Do these positive quality of life factors really have to be obliterated in order to create decent paying jobs as Trump purports? Wouldn’t investing in science and technology–especially in the creation of technologies to produce carbon neutral sources of energy–create more jobs for the future rather than using those investment dollars as direct payment to long-established major corporations whose only (unethical) goal is to increase profits in the short term for shareholders?
Don’t think that watching the destruction of American institutions is any easier from my viewpoint abroad. If anything, living in developing countries–where corruption and cronyism in government is tolerated and often encouraged–only heightens my awareness of the damage currently being done to the fabric of American society, or at least the remnants of what remains. On a daily basis, I witness the results of weak environmental protections, lack of zoning regulations and the poverty that results when government officials care more about lining their own pockets than about the welfare of citizens. As I write this, I’m constantly interrupted by fits of coughing due to the poor air quality in the city where I’m currently staying. This is what lack of government regulation brings, and believe me when I say it isn’t the quality of life I know most of my friends in the USA cherish!
What kind of leader do you want?
This isn’t an original thought, but when did many Americans become SO afraid of having intelligent leaders? You know, someone who would consult experts in their given academic fields before making decisions that affect all living beings on planet earth, rather than seeking advice solely from bureaucrats and profit-driven corporate executives. I admire leaders who take the time to deliberate all the possible merits of an issue and only speak when they have something of substance to say, and who even then, measure each word carefully as opposed to Trump’s style which seems to follow a reality TV script that constantly seeks to shock the world.
I want the best and brightest to be my leader. Someone who speaks eloquently and has the knowledge and confidence to use the English language to its fullest in order to thoroughly educate citizens. Someone who uses the kind of vocabulary occasionally that keeps me on my toes and has me running for the dictionary when I don’t understand the words. Someone who inspires and challenges me to research and learn more about issues, rather than hastily dismissing critics as liars. And yes, I do want a leader who’s respected by the vast majority of the world’s leaders, because all nations must be able to work together in order to solve daunting issues such as global warming and over-population that threaten the very existence of life on planet earth. Finally, I want a leader who will encourage me to evolve into a better person and therefore a better citizen who is more capable of affecting positive changes within my country.
Loose lips sink ships
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from living in and adapting to life in various cultures is the importance and weight spoken words can have. This may come as a shock to some Americans, but locals in much of the world don’t openly express their true feelings, instead deferring to keep harmony within their culture. Regardless of whether or not we choose to copy this more thoughtful approach to self-expression, imagine the dismay of many world leaders when they consider some of the off-the-cuff remarks President Trump has made. The only other current world leaders in the same league are loose-lipped vigilante Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, who appears to be both evil and deranged. Trump’s showboating even puts Vladamir Putin to shame which should be an alarming comparison!
Further, just when people should be outraged at Trump’s RADICAL behavior, many seem to have withdrawn and are avoiding topics relating to politics in general. Well, wake up folks! Saving what’s good about America is important for our future as a viable, competitive nation and quite possibly for the survival of the world as we know it!
Accelerating the shift of power
At a time when China is wisely seeking to endear itself to both the post-industrial and developing world, the USA appears to be hurtling head-first into an abyss. Economist Kishore Mahbubani warned in his prophetic book “The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East” that the kind of protectionist (America First!) policies espoused by the Trump administration are exactly the wrong course of action if the West’s most powerful country wants to retain its current spot as the world’s dominant political and economic power. The eyes of the world are watching, and even though some Americans may pretend to not care what ‘foreigners’ think of their country, over the long term such reckless behavior from our leaders will only end up harming the USA’s economy and stature in the world.
Wasn’t US industry (and therefore the country) built by accepting change as an opportunity and facing challenges that in the end lead to innovation and what we in the West always labeled “progress’? Our current administration appears determined to ignore the necessity of scientific investigation which was the key to America’s military and industrial might in the past. The greed of our current corporate model which values sort-term profits above all else is only a prescription for more financial disasters of the 2007-08 type in the future. In addition, we need to take a look at successful business models used in other countries instead of thinking we alone have all the answers. For example, Germany has proven it’s possible to have a strong economy based on medium sized businesses that seek to build resilience and longevity through partnerships rather than solely focusing on short term profits. In other words, bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to critical manufacturing concepts such as quality control.
Has America lost its moral compass?
Aside from economic concerns, what has happened to the ethical and moral beliefs of many Americans? Don’t we teach our children that bullying and intimidation are not a model for the way to lead a productive life? What does it say about the USA as a nation when we allow our highest elected official to get away with outrageous remarks demeaning just about anyone who isn’t a member of his immediate family? Honestly, US voters couldn’t have elected a more stereotypical ugly American character than our current ‘me first’ buffoon who presides daily over the White House’s oval office! The image that Trump projects to the rest of the world is one of selfishness, deceit and intimidation, the school yard bully who didn’t get his way and seeks to take out his revenge on everyone around him. What a wonderful adult role model for impressionable children!
In my humble opinion, it seems the only thing Trump has accomplished in his time as President is to make many people (both in the USA and abroad) question the nature of reality itself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve of the way business as usual is conducted in the corridors of Washington, D. C., and yes, institutions need to be constantly changing in order to better serve a country’s citizens, but I absolutely do not believe that the best way forward is for our current administration to simply burn down the house. We all need to take a long, hard look at what the word ‘progress’ means to us and carefully consider how that definition along with the destruction currently taking place in our nation’s capital relates to our lives and the quality of life our children will enjoy in the future.
*Header image courtesy of Mexican publication ALTO NIVEL