I write this newsletter on the morning of Election Day, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Right now I am taking a deep breath and stepping back from all the sensationalism surrounding this election to reflect on what its results might really mean for me and my family. To be honest, I, like most Americans, am not an enthusiastic supporter of either presidential candidate, and I’m not greatly inspired looking down the ballot either. We are at an interesting point in history, when there is a growing disconnect between our representatives and the people they are representing. While we can blame this disconnect on a variety of social and political factors, we rarely take personal responsibility.
I know Republicans like to think of themselves as the party of personal responsibility, but we hear calls for it on both sides of the aisle. Eight years ago, Obama said, “Yes, we can,” not, “Yes, I can.” Upon taking office, he again implored the American people to take responsibility for the change they wanted to see. This idea is really at the heart of strategic foresight as a discipline and a daily practice. It is stepping back and looking at how our actions today impact tomorrow’s outcomes. No matter who wins the elections today, it is still the American people’s responsibility to shape our future. And we exercise our power not just on election day, but every day, from the products we buy, to the causes we support, to the sources with which we choose to inform ourselves. We especially exert this power when we take the time to really consider an issue from a variety of perspectives and acknowledge the complexity inherent to modern life in a global society. Sound bites don’t fly with an informed electorate. The best solutions tend not to be simple.
The truth is that there are lot of special interests out there shaping our future right now in the form of researching, writing, and lobbying for public policy. They have been in the business of shaping our future for a long time, and would love to continue practicing strategic foresight on your behalf. If you like waking up on election morning and asking, “How did we get here?”, then keep letting them do it. If not, then start practicing strategic foresight today.