Voters: Bring your Best Self to the Polls

“People’s memories are so short that what has them down today could be forgotten by next week if the court or whatever else becomes the issue,” Tom Ingram, political strategist. 2020

We may not want to admit it, but our elected leaders are a reflection of us.  And, at this moment, our national leaders are not a group we can be proud of.. According to Pew Research, in 2019, 21% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats said they trusted government (that ratio typically shifts with the Party in power). Today, only 18%[1] approve of the performance of Congress.  My overseas friends and colleagues agree (“What’s going on in the USA??”).

Most of us complain about elected national leaders. We complain, “They only care about themselves; are in the pockets of lobbyists and other special interests; are polarized and unable to work together for common good; are callous, or corrupt.”  Some of these officials, as well as a few candidates who won in the primaries, even believe in debunked conspiracy theories or spew hatred and openly show glee for the constipation in Congress. Is this really what we want from our leaders, whose power and position make them role models for people of all ages.

I think we can all agree that national leaders, collectively, are not showing wisdom, maturity, or the ability to work together, let alone the foresight we need to take us into an increasingly complex and uncertain future.

We are fed up, but, as the old comic strip character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and (they) is us!”  We have elected and re-elected people who are not willing or able to learn and lead in complex times. They don’t or can’t draw out our better angels or help us through any sacrifices we may need to make for a better country and world – or even for a better today. Some are even willing to cheat in our elections because they feel it is the only way they can win. This immaturity of elected leaders is a sign of a democracy in trouble!

We, the voters, are responsible for this mess. And only we, the voters, can do something about it.   

It’s time to go inside ourselves to discover why we have allowed this to happen.

A Call to Evolve Ourselves

Today’s world is changing fast, and so must we and our leaders. We can’t avoid these changes. Pandora’s box is open. We can futilely try to put all the unleashed forces back in. We can become angry, fearful, and blaming  — retreat and give up our power to leaders who promise to take care of us.  Or, we can roll up our sleeves and take on our power to  create and help transform the world around us.  For us as voters in 2020, this means rethinking our collective vision of the future. It’s time, too, to examine and evolve assumptions about race, the poor, the rich, corporations, progressive and conservative philosophies and values, climate, our role in the world, and democracy itself.

It is from this continuously developing, and self-responsible view of ourselves that we can and must research candidates, think about the future they will lead us into, and then decide our vote.

Leaders Are “Us”

This continually maturing view of ourselves also applies to the leaders we select.  The decisions our elected leaders make (or don’t make) have effects across many time horizons: short, medium and long-term.  And because the USA is so powerful economically and morally in the world, our national leaders also have very broad influence – planetary, in fact.  We pay our leaders more in money and power because their impact is so deep, long, broad. So, we have a right to expect them to deliver on all these fronts.

The leaders we elect should, therefore, be a match for complex times. We will expect them to face into and help us deal with life-changing matters like technology and automation at work and in life, climate and planetary issues, wealth and opportunity inequities, demographic changes, changing urban and rural needs, security threats (including future pandemics), long festering issues related to race, a complex global political environment.  We will ask them to help us turn differences into creative solutions vs. vilification and win-lose. And we will expect them to evolve with the challenges of the times and help us do the same. It’s more than the stock market, or specific legislation, that’s at stake.

So, when you vote, plan to select national leaders who can help us move into and thrive in changing times. Vote for people who have maturity, integrity, and wisdom, as well as empathy and experience . Vote for people who have sufficiently evolved themselves to be able to take on the roles we entrust to them. 

And, remember as you prepare to vote: our leaders are us. Be sure your choice reflects the best of a continually evolving and maturing ‘you.’


[1] Gallup, as of September 13, 2020.

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