The Perils of Bickering

I subscribe to Axios.com which is serving as my morning news fix because my newspaper carrier can’t seem to deliver before I leave for work these days. (Sigh)
Axios is a compilation of well written news “bites” and analysis that makes you feel somewhat “in the know.”

Last week, there was an item that caught my eye and made me think. And worry.
The writer opined that the era of American economic and technological dominance was coming to an end and that China was going to surpass the USA within a decade.

Whoa!
Why?

Because China has a vision to dominate trade and technology and to become the world’s indispensable nation.
But beyond having a vision, China is executing by making investments in infrastructure, artificial intelligence and robotics with a stated goal of dominance.

Of course, China is a one party dictatorship with a President who just made himself leader for life. What Xi says goes. Period.
It doesn’t exactly work that way in the United States. Good thing too.

But it does make one wonder how we stave off competition from a nation as large, as capable and as determined as China.
It also makes you wonder when the last time we had a national vision that went beyond the next election.

It wasn’t always this way.

The Space Race, World War II and the war on terror are just a few examples of near universal national resolve.
It seems like everything else has been a struggle: civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, health care, immigration, gun safety etc., have been battles.

There is nothing wrong with struggling for what you believe in. In fact, it probably makes you more appreciative when you achieve your goal. Also, Democracy is inherently messy and loud. But if it is to remain viable and competitive it needs to lead to something. The process (struggle) should be Democratic, but there needs to be outcomes too–or you risk losing your edge as a nation. Today, we have too many problems left unsolved by national “leaders” focused solely on beating their enemies, getting re-elected, rewarding their friends and erasing the other team’s work. Partisanship reigns over patriotism. It’s not just sad, it’s tragic and fatal if not addressed.

This blog is a champion of local solutions (localism) but there are some things that only a competent and effective federal government can accomplish: a national defense for instance, immigration policy, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.

But…
These days we bicker. These days we dawdle.
All the while, the competition plans and executes.

Still, on this corner of the web, we focus on cities and hyper local topics and so here’s where there are parallels.
The cities that have visions; the cities that execute win.
The cities that bicker and dawdle miss out.
It’s that simple.
Really. It is that simple.
So make decisions.
Take risks.
Be civic entrepreneurs.
Invest.
Re-invest.
Reach out and involve the whole community.
Listen.
Learn.
Question.
Experiment.
Make the good stuff easy.
Turn down the bad stuff.
But don’t bicker.
Don’t dawdle.
We live in a competitive landscape and we can’t afford our communities to major in the minor.
Progress and prosperity flows to cities which create a culture that celebrate those who aspire.
Progress and prosperity will miss places that bicker and dawdle.

As Bruce Springsteen sings about Atlantic City: “Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line.”

 

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