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There is always a personal aspect to short essays and shared thoughts, but never has the social, political and cultural environment been so loaded with parallel reasons to express ideas and simultaneously run for the hills.  Personally, over many months I have found myself withdrawing from my usual tendency to share various positions and at least raise what seem to be sensible questions.  For this, I have experienced a growing discomfort and measure of shame.

The reactive tendency to shut down is generally due to the current political stupidity, rancor and circus atmosphere and concurrent abandonment of principle, good will, courtesy and foresight generally reflected by this administration and many in congress.  There are so many examples of egregious misbehavior, poor judgement, and outright lies that one is almost overwhelmed regarding what to say and how to say it.  Anger, frustration, disbelief and dismay converge to create an inertia I have rarely felt.

Based on experience, it is clear to me that a group of smart, experienced and insightful professionals from key industries, associations and professions could convene to create a long-term solution to America’s healthcare crises.  Given the latitude, such a group of non-politically motivated professionals from essential disciplines- insurance, medical professionals, healthcare institutions, academia, social services, non-profits, government agency/ process professionals and the business community could create a path forward in 3 to 6 months.

This country needs a clear, stable, encompassing and durable plan for healthcare…one that is not guided by political party, motivated by power or financial gain, and certainly not energized by a posture of ‘getting even’ with or destroying the legacy of a previous administration. Other than congress, virtually every element of this society is capable of convening to solve problems—especially if those solutions benefit the country and are in the best common interest of all Americans.  It happens every day. People identify issues, define challenges, conduct analysis, pose various solutions and, ultimately, solve problems in a manner that derives the best for all parties.

The same is true of America’s deteriorating infrastructure.  There are professionals in both government and industry who have already posed prudent fiscal, logistic and project plans that would allow America to slowly and responsibly rebuild every aspect of its aging infrastructure—ports, highways, airports, bridges, roads, water and waste systems, etc.  While many challenges must be addressed by state and local jurisdictions, a national master plan would help.  The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has published an annual infrastructure report with thoughtful recommendations. Such reports are not prepared for personal, organizational or professional gain…they are developed with a serious and abiding concern for the future.

Whether considering foreign relations, infrastructure, taxation, healthcare, education, immigration, or any current challenge, there are many talented people who are motivated to serve without political or personal gain.  In America, especially at the congressional level, once party politics is introduced, communication, shared data, cooperation and collaboration falter.  Just listening to endless interviews and associated finger pointing, accusations, blaming and senseless babble has been enough to make me believe that decline is real and irreversible. Given that, perhaps a life of solitude is preferable…

I am and have always been apolitical. I vote for the best candidate, based on everything I read and study.  And, I have historically gone back many years in a review of each candidate to arrive at a conclusion.  To be sure, at times there are no stellar candidates and I have occasionally chosen poorly.  It seems like truly gifted managers, thinkers, and collaborators won’t participate in the current political debacle that is much worse than it has ever been in my lifetime.  I am not a fan of political parties and have grown more fearful of those who pledge allegiance to a party ‘platform’ rather than commit to a collaborative long-term vision and fact-based analysis.

On this note, it appears that the current administration has fostered a concerted effort to abuse factual data, whether related to climate change, economic growth over the previous eight years, unemployment data, polling results, or anything else that does not support a personal, ego-driven agenda.  For the great many Americans who read, study, analyze, consider facts, and are open to thoughtful dialogue, there should be deep concern about autocratic, ego-centric behavior that is rarely supported by data.  Read the ASCE report on America’s infrastructure; read The Water Will Come, by Jeff Goodell; read the many excellent data compilations from the Earth Policy Institute, which merely report information about deforestation, glacial erosion, temperature escalation, declining water supplies, starvation levels, and the loss of both plant and animal species.  It’s just data…gathered and reported.  Draw your own conclusions.

I suppose the message here is that I am returning to the Public Futures Blog because I can’t sit by idly and accept deflection, corrosion, corruption and loss of momentum.  I believe in business enterprise, durable infrastructure, wise foreign relations, national security, fair taxes for all, accessible healthcare, preservation of parks, wetlands and wilderness, prudent immigration policies and a strong, affordable educational system.

Progress in these and other areas requires leadership, and it is time to seriously reflect on what that means to America.  Malignant narcissism, bombast, name calling and lying is not leadership.  Even the most difficult problems can be solved by those willing to represent the common interests of all Americans.  That requires commitment to a future vision and dedication to the ideals of this republic.  Let’s return to that commitment.

With over four decades working in and with federal, state and local government, John Luthy understands public agencies.  Known for his real world, straight talking style, he is a leading futurist specializing in city, county, state, and federal long-range thinking and planning. John is the author of Operations Planning: A Guide for Public Officials and Managers in Troubled Times, and The Strategic Planning Guide, both published by the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA). Reprints of his book, Planning the Future – A Guide to Strategic Thinking and Planning for Elected Officials, Public Administrators and Community Leaders (2010) has sold out several times. An innovative and dynamic presenter, John is frequently asked to speak and consult on how to prepare public organizations and communities for emerging challenges (public futures at http://www.futurescorp.com).

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