Imagining America, the Earnest
We are living through yet another geopolitical crisis. This time is distinctly different from our last fiasco in Afghanistan in two crucial ways. One, it doesn’t seem to affect us as directly. On the surface, we are no more involved than the rest of the west, save for the outsized influence generally has on world affairs. Two, it’s unclear that an alternate political administration would act in a way that’s meaningfully different. Thankfully, nobody wants to start a war right now. But our manner of external communication on this crisis is revealing the deepest cracks in our facade.
The political calculus for our current crop of politicians is simpler than a squid game: make it sound like we’re being as tough as possible while doing the absolute least possible. With this complete and highly visible disconnect between what we say and what we do, is it a surprise that many, maybe most of the world, no longer trusts us? Nobody was ever expecting the truth from Vladmir or Xi. But argument since the end of the WWII has been that we are different. We had held that we are credible and competent. Perhaps it’s time to start acting like we really are but cutting the doublespeak and speaking frankly on challenging geopolitical issues. I can already anticipate some pushback.
I’ve heard time and time again from those trained in the political establishment, which I grew up around, that it’s naive to honest. True, we can’t always show all of our cards. Due to matters of security and sometimes simple common sense strategy, we cannot be transparent in all our affairs. The same is true for a company. But I am unconvinced that we cannot be earnest.
Imagine, for a moment, the bold American leader who just says it like it is, defying the establishment, and calling out that we indeed are not going to take any real action. We have deemed that it’s not worth it for us. Maybe some strategic errors in our past led us here, and maybe this will be a lesson for us to consider our future actions and how we avoid being checkmated in the future. As an individual, self-awareness revealed in earnest either deepens connection of brings out the psychopaths. One might argue, in geopolitics, psychopaths are the assumption, lest we forget our standing in the world.
A small country, whose neighbors have far more power than them, may not have the luxury of being earnest. Their dimensions of actions are heavily constrained and one wrong statement, sentiment, or action could have existential consequences. But we really still are dramatically different from the world in the sheer power, military and economic, that we have, as much as our collective subconscious seems bent on forfeiting that. As a result, we do still, for now at least, get to set many of the rules, long and short term. Though I understand that our politicians may not feel this when in office.
It seems mostly true that politicians focus on elections first, and governing second. And in our system it would be fanciful to think we’d ever have a politician that would govern first, as one wonders how they would ever make it to office. Ironically, the authoritarians have the most liberty to act in earnest, yet it’s equally unsurprising they that rarely do. It is left to us to uphold the mantle of truth, for if we cannot, nobody else will.
I’m sick of the bullshit from our government. I’m sick of hearing the words that we all know map to nothing. I have to imagine I’m not alone. I want to hear the truth, even if it’s not good. A lot of it is good, I want to hear that too. If democratic governance is to have any chance of surviving, our nation needs to start communicating with its own people and the world in earnest. We need a new type of leaders.