Thursday, November 16, 2006

Election Reflection

So, here is my letter to the editor of Newsweek regarding their election coverage, just in case it doesn't get published.

"I am a boomer and a conservative. However, when I pulled the lever for some Demorcrats and Independents in this past election, I certainly was not signalling my desire to return to the policies of Bush '41 and his "Rescue Squad". It is a mistake to read the results as either a rejection of conservative values (look at the state initiatives and the Democrats that were elected) or a desire to return to the old ideas of Bush '41 or Newt.

Both parties need to come up with a new contract with America- one that sets forth what our role will be in the future. One that recognizes that today's America, and today's World, is very different than even a decade ago. One that emphasizes the core values of freedom, liberty, enterprise and innovation that unite us, rather than the issues that divide us. One that emphasizes leading the world in solving problems, rather than ignoring them or creating new ones. One that walks the talk, instead of saying one thing and doing another. One that plays well with others.

Party leaders would do well to to bring younger people and newer ideas into the conversation, rather than rushing back to the false comfort of the "old hands" you profile in this article. Certainly there is a role for history and wisdom in troubled times, but there is also a need for vision and energy. Leaders look forward... not backward."

So, is it strange that a conservative is also concerned about the environment? That a conservative is also a conservationist? That someone who is concerned about industrial waste is also concerned about government waste? Or the waste of human potential due to poverty, ignorance and disease? (Clue- these are rhetorical questions).

Fundamentally, politics is not about the extremes. Too much time is spent arguing over positions, rather than making progress. (See "Getting to Yes" for more on this). To me, it basically comes down to the fact that liberals have a bit more faith in government, and bit less faith in markets. True conservatives are the opposite. Our system, ideally, allows for the battle of ideas, and the ebb and flow of debate. The best we can hope for is political leaders that do their best to do what they say they will do. Rarely do we see this any more. Instead, we see "conservatives" using government to advance social and international agendas from which our constitution is set up to protect us. And "liberals" pushing tired agendas of large government programs that will collapse from their own weight in time.

The recent Business Week cover story is much closer to getting it right. Government is less relevant by the day. Global economic forces are impacting monetary policy, labor markets, education and innovation. Power is moving, sometimes slowly, sometimes haltingly, but inexorably, to the individual. Richard Florida has said: "The real economic driver of this age is human creativity." Some may wait for government to solve the world's problems. Not me. Those that will harness human creativity and lead our society forward are less likely to be found in government, than in the ranks of activists and entrepreneurs.

My next post will return to BOPreneurs. Thank you for your indulgence of a somewhat tangential post.

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