Mediocre means neither good nor bad, but at best, barely adequate. Mediocre political leadership today means it is not as good as it should be, not as bad as it could be, but given today’s world, not even barely adequate. In recent years, I have said, “Occasions arise that demand great leaders, but great leaders have not risen to the occasion.” Still true today.
This is not a long harangue against some individual leader, party, ideology, or nation. I find this sad state in North America, Europe, and most of the nations that we used to call the “First World” back in the 20th century, plus the majority of today’s “emerging markets” (Brazil, Russia, China, etc.) that are closely tied to the first group not just by trade, but by stock and bond markets.
The other sad truth is that these very nations have an incredible pool of talent that have done, are doing, and will do more to promote global progress, despite the failure of their leadership. Why don’t these relatively younger adults get involved in politics? Why don’t the “best and brightest” bring some of that intelligence and determination to public administration?
I think the answer is simple and obvious. It may sound odd, but it is “easier” to work with the complex technology of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and so many other new fields than it is to lead a fractured, frightened public. On a risk/reward basis, there is no competition. Politics is a mud fight with little or nothing to gain for someone who is truly among the “best and brightest”. So they are simply too smart to get into politics. If there were truly great leaders in those nations I mentioned, these people would be there to help make it work, but it isn’t there, so neither are they.
In the past at Future Brief, I have talked about the emergence of a “global community” based not on nationality, but the ability to work above, beyond, and outside borders. The best and brightest are moving in that direction for the simple reason that they are the best and brightest. So far, they have been too smart to make the mistake of jumping into the morass of nation-state politics. They may do that someday, or they may move to another location globally where they are welcome and where leadership focuses on the future, not the past.
They are waiting for the final dying breaths of the 20th century, but they are not wasting their time on killing it off. They are getting ready to be part of something new, exciting, and potentially “dangerous”, but they are risk-takers, the people responsible for human progress throughout history.
I mentioned last week that these essays would be short in comparison to my past style. Each is a “piece” of a much greater puzzle and this is just one of them. There are more to come. Then we can begin the challenge of putting them together and trying to get a sense of where we are now, where we are headed, what we can expect, and what we can do about it.
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