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Two Kinds of Voters

February 25th, 2012 // 8:34 am @

There are two kinds of voters: Traditionalists and Pragmatists.

Knowing the difference is vital—especially during election years. It helps us be better voters and guardians of freedom.

The 2012 elections—local, state, and national—are pivotal to freedom.

If we learn to understand the differences between these types of voters, we can work together more effectively to ensure a positive result—no matter who wins.


Traditionalists have strong allegiances to a party or political viewpoint. They tend to see all politics as Left versus Right, Republican versus Democrat, or Liberal versus Conservative.

From this perspective, politics is a battle between the “righteous” thinkers and statesmen on your side and the “evil” ideologues and self-serving politicians and bureaucrats on the other side.

Traditionalist voters on each side have their own lexicon of highly-charged key words and a stable of trusted writers, news analysts, and pundits. Most importantly, Traditionalists have a list of key issues which define their political views and drive their political emotions.

Such issues include abortion, immigration, welfare, health care, national security, education and many others—including, most recently, the Keystone Pipeline, religious freedom, class warfare, and contraception.

Again, such voters take strong sides on these issues, vehemently support one side and listen to little debate from the other side. Often they go to extremes, overstating the morality of their side and vilifying any who disagree.

Liberals and conservatives often dislike each other, and usually disagree on the issues, but they basically understand each other.

They are warriors for (or at least supporters of) their political views, and so they “get” other Traditionalist voters even when they are on different sides of the aisle. They think the other Party is wrong, but they are somewhat similar in the way they approach political life.


Instead of being “warriors for truth,” Pragmatists view politics as managers. For them, political battles are routine decisions that citizens must make—just like administrators must show up for work, deal with the challenges that arise, and then go home to their private lives.

This professionalism in their voting role is one of the reasons political polls are often wrong in predicting how elections will turn out.

Polls of Traditionalists are mostly accurate, but surveys of Pragmatists are usually misleading.

Pragmatists frequently answer surveys with the goal of impacting them, and this isn’t an accurate indication of how they’ll actually vote.

Such voters are very literal about their citizenship: every civic action they take is done with a deliberate attempt to impact the outcomes and results.

Indeed, Pragmatists have no worries about just skipping an election if they don’t think their vote will change the outcome (such as when one candidate is clearly far ahead). They don’t see voting as an important civic duty, but as a pragmatic opportunity to impact things.

This doesn’t mean that Pragmatist voters who don’t bother to vote will ignore the election.

They’ll write blogs, try to impact polls, or help fund the candidates and causes they support. But they’ll only do things they think will actually make a difference.


Where Traditionalist voters support a candidate because they feel he or she is “right” or “best” for America, Pragmatists vote for what they think is the most desired election result.

For example, a Pragmatist may well vote for one party in the Presidential race and another party in a Senatorial campaign because she thinks the best governance will come from the White House and Senate being run by different parties.

Or consider the voter who told CNN that he would vote for Ron Paul, but that if Paul dropped out or didn’t get the Republican nomination he would vote for Barack Obama.

From a Traditionalist perspective this comment makes no sense. Why would anyone choose the two extremes and reject everyone in the middle?

For Pragmatists, this makes sense in several ways. First, it is a strong way of voicing support for Ron Paul and maybe convincing a few voters to change their vote to Paul. Second, it makes everyone stop and think, which is a high priority for Pragmatists. Third, and perhaps most significantly, Ron Paul and Barack Obama are both Pragmatists, while the other candidates are more Traditionalist.

Pragmatists can be just as strongly supportive of any given issue as Traditionalists, but they approach it differently—they are interested in real change on the issue.

Traditionalists, in contrast, tend to emphasize winning the election and then hoping the elected officials will do better than their opponents would have.

To reiterate: Traditionalists emphasize candidates. Pragmatists focus on real policy change.

Many Pragmatists are independents because they don’t believe party politics are good for the nation (except when they decide to personally run for office, in which case their pragmatism kicks in and they join a party).

Both major political parties have their share of Pragmatists, many of whom are political professionals, activists on the far Left and Right, and party insiders who have great influence in elections. Still, many Pragmatist voters dislike institutionalism and distrust big organizations.

Pragmatist voters tend to find the Left-Right bickering over the issues both annoying and wasteful. They enjoy a good debate, however, as long as it deals with real issues and detailed solutions that can really work.

Pragmatists also give kudos to any good debater on either side (something Traditionalist voters hardly ever do because they tend to think the candidates on their side are doing well while the politicians from the other side are wrong and therefore debating badly).

Traditionalists tend to band with other people who agree with them on either conservative or liberal values. They seldom talk politics with people of different views, and when they do they frequently get upset.

They dislike arguing about politics and find themselves angry and frustrated when others directly challenge their political views. They like rallies and debates where their side trashes the other side.

Pragmatists, in contrast, often genuinely like political arguments. They enjoy debating with people from other viewpoints, and also take pleasure in learning new ideas from people and sources that are both allies and opponents.

Pragmatists tend to think about politics on their own or in discussions with a few close friends rather than in big groups or official events, and many like to take different sides of arguments to see how others respond.

Pragmatists seldom like political events where someone lectures; they prefer to discuss and debate. They’ll support liberal views in an argument with a conservative father-in-law and later that same day promote conservatism when arguing with a liberal professor.

The father-in-law will be convinced that his daughter has married a “flaming liberal” and the professor will swear that his student is a “wild-eyed conservative.” In fact, they are both Traditionalists dealing with a Pragmatist.

The Pragmatist son-in-law/student just wants to fix what’s broken—as efficiently and effectively as possible, and the sooner the better. He also likes to argue about politics and to make people stop and think more deeply.

Many Pragmatists don’t really know how to be conservative or liberal. They see too many issues on both sides where the typical progressive or conservative dogmas are shallow or flawed.

For example, many Pragmatists who grew up in liberal families or communities just can’t condone (or understand) the liberal penchant for compulsive government over-spending.

Similarly, a number of Pragmatists from traditionally conservative backgrounds find it ridiculous (and even immoral) that many conservatives give seemingly constant lip-service to freedom from the excesses and bureaucrats in Washington D.C., while they simultaneously want to deny the opportunity for freedom to foreign-born immigrants—without even seeming to realize that this is a contradiction.

Traditionalists see elections as a choice between competing liberal and conservative values, while Pragmatists tend to summarize each election around the most important central issue.

In short, Traditionalists tend to think that elections are about liberal versus conservative values, issues and candidates, and they hardly realize that Pragmatists exist.

In fact, most conservatives and liberals categorize Pragmatists simply as members of the other side. “If you’re not with us,” many Traditionalists assume, “you must be with that other party.”

For their part, many Pragmatists are annoyed by Traditionalist politics and content to stay uninvolved in supporting certain issues and campaigns.

As a result, many who could work together remain alienated even though they actually agree on nearly all goals and could be effective political allies.

How This Applies in 2012

This year will be a Pragmatist election. The question is the same as 2008 and 2010: Which party is most likely to get our economic house in order?

Only a major world crisis is likely to change this focus, though President Obama’s campaign is trying to swing the narrative away from the economy and make this a Traditionalist party election.

In short, if independents in the battleground states vote Traditionalist in 2012 (based mainly on social issues), President Obama will be re-elected; if they vote Pragmatist (with a focus on freeing up the economy), he will be unseated.

Second, while many people on the Right tend to see President Obama as a far-left liberal and those on the Left most often see him as a centrist (note that both “liberal” and “centrist” are Traditionalist labels), his record and modus operandi is clearly Pragmatist.

President Obama has genuinely progressive goals, to be sure, but his personality, approach and methodology is strongly Pragmatist.

The other strongly Pragmatist in the campaign is Congressman Paul. Some would call him a Traditionalist because he has long promoted issues that had little chance of winning, but to do this would be to misread his efforts; he has always focused on bringing real change to his agenda items, not just symbolic support.

Ironically, however, though Ron Paul has taken a Pragmatist approach for many years, a lot of Pragmatists don’t support him because they don’t think he can win.

Rick Santorum is the most Traditionalist of the current candidates. The one exception in his otherwise Traditionalist stable of issues is his strongly Pragmatist stance in support of the manufacturing sector.

Interestingly, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich swing between Pragmatist and Traditionalist approaches. Romney has taken a Traditionalist voice while his history is more naturally Pragmatist.

Gingrich is a strong Traditionalist in his long public life, but seems to take a Pragmatist tone in his private and business life.

Depending on whether either of these candidates becomes the Republican nominee, in the general election expect either Romney or Gingrich to focus nearly his entire campaign strongly on one Pragmatist issue: Who can best fix the U.S. economy.

This election will be swayed by Pragmatist voters, which gives President Obama a natural advantage unless his opponent can convince Pragmatists that a Republican can more realistically and effectively renovate the economy.

The Greatest Need

A key to winning this election (at the local and state levels as well as nationally) is to create effective coalitions of Traditionalists and Pragmatists with shared election goals.

This is not an easy marriage. The two types of voters see each other as part of the problem. Even when Traditionalists and Pragmatists accept the need to work together, they generally approach their relationship with basic mistrust.

Conservative Traditionalists almost always have a hard time believing that conservative-leaning Pragmatists are really on their side. In most cases, they have been warriors of conservatism for a long time. They have come to associate conservatism with certain catch phrases, key words and mutual affection for iconic media personalities.

Pragmatists loathe what they consider shallow and mindless partisanship. As a result, they dislike catch phrases, key words and iconic personalities. The same problems exist between liberal Traditionalists and liberal-leaning Pragmatists.

Ironically, politics requires us to get outside our comfort zones and work with people from differing views in order to obtain the best results for our locales, states and nations.

It may well be this very process of political interrelationships and personal citizen involvement that keeps us free in the long term.

When a free nation is in decline or struggles, the greatest need is simply for better voters.

We need to become such voters, and we all need to reach out and work more effectively with people who are different in order to accomplish real change in modern America. If we do this, the 2012 election will be a success, whatever the electoral results.

Who we elect is ultimately less important than how we elect, because our citizen involvement beyond the voting booth is determining our national future.

As the major campaigns continually amp up the negativity of their attack ads, this is increasingly true. Our leaders now seldom set the example of civility and honest debate, and if our citizens follow their path the future of freedom will continue to decline.

Fortunately, each of us can directly impact this sad trend. We must push through political barriers and have honest and friendly dialogues with people from all political viewpoints.

This takes maturity—a characteristic of free people.

Our freedoms, or their lack, are less a result of the leaders in society than of the citizens. In our time, better voters and better citizens are needed.

Each of us can do better. There are many in our society that divide, criticize and attack. More citizens are needed who build bridges and promote unity.

Whatever kind of voter you are, it is essential to realize that in the current environment the citizens are the true leaders. It is time for each of us to lead.


odemille 133x195 custom Two Kinds of VotersOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Featured &Government &Politics

The New Grand Strategy for 2012

February 20th, 2012 // 2:50 pm @

1.     Two Speeches

Several years ago I spoke at a seminar on international affairs and I predicted that in the next few years the United States would adopt a new Grand Strategy. I outlined America’s historical Grand Strategies, from Constitutionalism (1789-1820) and Manifest Destiny (1820-1900) to Nationalism (1900-1945) and later Internationalism (1945-2001).

I pointed out that our Grand Strategy is the way we define our major national goals for the decades ahead, and that after 9/11 we were on track for a new Grand Strategy. We discussed some possible Grand Strategies that could come, and we brainstormed things we hoped to see in the Grand Strategy of the 21st Century.

The same year, in another speech on a different occasion, I showed how many of the predictions found in one publication, Foreign Affairs, keep ending up as official U.S. policy. I cited numerous examples from articles in Foreign Affairs and showed how within five years of publication their recommendations were adopted. I marveled that one publication could have such an effective track record, and recommended that everyone in attendance subscribe to and read this magazine.

Of course, as I said in the speech, not all the authors in Foreign Affairs agree on every detail, and in fact they engage in a great deal of debate. But, again, is it amazing how often policies recommended in Foreign Affairs end up being implemented in Washington.

Then, just this year, the messages of these speeches came together in an interesting way. In the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, a new article outlines a new Grand Strategy for the United States. Although I don’t agree with many of the details in this latest Grand Strategy, the track record of Foreign Affairs promises that this will, in fact, be the Grand Strategy of the United States in the decades ahead.

I believe that this will be the major 21st Century challenge for the future of American freedom.

2.     Grand Strategy Drives the Nation

The power of a Grand Strategy can hardly be overstated. When a nation adopts a Grand Strategy, it dominates national policy and influences all national choices over time. Few, if any, policies go against or are even allowed to compete with the accepted Grand Strategy.

And while not everyone knows what a Grand Strategy is, the intelligentsia of both parties tend to follow the Grand Strategy with the energy and passion of religious doctrine. They may disagree on many things, but they both adhere to the Grand Strategy.

So what is the new Grand Strategy of the United States? The answers are outlined in an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski: “A New U.S. Grand Strategy: Balancing the East, Upgrading the West”.  Students of American policy will remember Brzezinski as the U.S. National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981 and as a long-time writer on U.S. international strategy.

3.     Our New Grand Strategy

Things have changed drastically over the past decade, Brzezinski assures us, and by 2012 a new Grand Strategy is overdue. The outlines of this new plan include the following:

  • The “central focus” for the United States in the years ahead is threefold: (1) revitalize the U.S., (2) help the West expand, and (3) create a balance in the East that will allow China to successfully rise without becoming an enemy.
  • The expansion of the West will create a democratic free zone from North America and Western Europe to a number of other nations, including Eastern Europe, Russian, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
  • In the East, U.S. power and influence will attempt to create a cooperative relationship between China and Japan and keep Chinese-Indian relations from turning to violent conflict.
  • To accomplish all this, the U.S. must become a better “promoter and guarantor” of unity and simultaneously a “balancer and conciliator between the major powers of the East.”
  • To have any credibility in these roles, the U.S. must effectively “renovate itself at home.” This requires, says Brzezinski, four things: (1) better innovation, (2) improved education, (3) a balance of American power and diplomacy, and (4) a better focus on quality political leadership in Washington.
  • One of the most important changes ahead must be an effective improvement of relations between the United States and the European Union. The two sides of the Atlantic have been drifting apart since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this trend must be reversed. Otherwise, growing conflicts between the United States, the European Union, and Russia could weaken the West and cause it to splinter and become increasingly pessimistic. This would also promote a more contentious China.
  • The U.S. should decrease military power in Asia and emphasize increased cooperation with China.
  • Taiwan will at some point have to reconcile in some way with China.

Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with this new strategy. If this is the outline of the years ahead, the U.S. will definitely face an era of deepening international confusion and tension.

Despite this reality, the historical track record of Foreign Affairs suggests that this is the Grand Strategy we will follow. If this occurs, voters will elect one party and then the other, and remain frustrated when the on-going Grand Strategy of our international affairs keeps our economic and other national policies going in the same direction.

Adoption of this Grand Strategy is a path of inevitable decline, regardless of what the experts say. Election after election, we’ll seek real change but see whoever is in the White House continually push our nation in the same negative direction.

4.     Significant Flaws

Specifically, this new Grand Strategy has at least the following major defects:

  • An abandonment of support for an independent Taiwan, even through a subtle shift of attitude as suggested, amounts to a significant reversal of America’s historical loyalty to our allies. Such a change will undermine our credibility with other nations and further erode Washington’s credibility with American voters.
  • The attempt to bridge differences between the United States and European nations in this Grand Strategy takes the tone of the U.S. becoming more like these nations—rather than influencing these countries to adopt more freedom-based values historically espoused by the U.S.
  • Adoption of this new Grand Strategy may amount to a de facto appeasement of China. If China is, in fact, following a savvy strategy of replacing America as the world’s dominant super power and transporting its fundamental values around the globe, then this would be nothing less than a disastrous policy. And even if China is a good-faith seeker of more global participation, cooperation and open trade, it certainly wants to spread its central values and ideals—nearly all of which are antithetical to freedom.
  • The emphasis on increased business innovation and improved education in this strategy seem to rely on increased government spending and intervention in our economy rather than policies that incentive increased free enterprise, innovation, hiring and entrepreneurialism. This is yet another attempt to move away from traditional American values and adopt instead the government-run mercantilist practices of European and Asian economies.
  • The focus in this policy is a shift from internationalism (a policy of interactions between sovereign nations with America as a world leader) to globalism (where the United States submits its actions to the decisions of international organizations).
  • Note that while we have changed the Constitution through Amendments less than thirty times in over two hundred years, it has been changed in literally thousands of ways through treaty (and these changes are seldom noticed by most Americans). While treaties were used to skirt the Constitution many times under the Internationalist Grand Strategy since 1945, this new Globalist Grand Strategy will make this the major focus of its policies, totally ending Constitutional rule in the United States. This is not an exaggeration but rather a technical reality.

In short, this new Grand Strategy is a de facto end to the traditional American Constitutional system. If it is fully adopted, and all indications are that this is what is occurring, our free system is in immediate jeopardy.

I am an optimist, and I believe that the best America and the world have to offer is still ahead. Yet in a nation of laws, in a society where the fine print of contracts, statutes, judicial dicta, executive agency policies and treaties are our higher law, this new Grand Strategy promises to rewrite our entire system in a few agencies dominated by unelected international experts and almost entirely out of the public’s eye. This is not a republic or democracy, but a true technocracy.

Again, the result will be elections where we vote our passions but where little changes no matter which candidates win each campaign.

In such a world, the fine print in our treaties will run the show, though few will realize what is happening or understand why our freedoms and economy are constantly in decline no matter which party we put in charge of Washington.

It is hard to overstate just how significant this current change is in our world. Freedom is literally at stake.

5.     Solutions

We don’t need better leaders or public officials as near as much as we need better citizens. Historically, the American founders knew that freedom could only last if regular citizens had the same level of education as our Governors, Senators, Judges, experts and Presidents.

When any nation is divided between, on one hand, a class of political experts who read and understand the fine print of what is really happening and, on the other hand, the rest of the people who don’t read or get involved in such intricate details, freedom is inevitably lost.

There are no exceptions to this in history.

We will either become such citizens, or our freedoms will be lost.

If this is too much to ask of modern citizens, then freedom is too much for us to handle. Just consider what Samuel Williams, a Harvard professor in the American founding era, said about the average education of American children in 1794:

“All the children are trained up to this kind of knowledge: they are accustomed from their earliest years to read the Holy Scriptures, the periodical publications, newspapers, and political pamphlets; to form some general acquaintance with the laws of their country, the proceedings of the courts of justice, of the general assembly of the state, and of the Congress, etc.

“Such a kind of education is common and universal in every part of the state: and nothing would be more dishonorable to the parents, or to the children, than to be without it.”

Such people were deep readers. And the freedoms they fought for and maintained showed it. The only way to get back such freedoms is to once again become such citizens. What is needed, regardless of what the experts in Washington do, is a widespread grassroots grand strategy of becoming the kind of citizens and voters who are truly capable of maintaining freedom.


(For more on how to become this kind of citizen and reader, see the book A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille.)


odemille 133x195 custom The New Grand Strategy for 2012Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Prosperity &Statesmanship

The Elephant in the Room

February 11th, 2012 // 8:52 am @

This article was previously posted as the February 2012 Social Leader newsletter.
The Elephant in the Room
The 2012 Election, the Tea Parties, and the Thing That’s Missing
The 2012 election could turn out to be a disaster.
In fact, it may already be headed in that direction.
Many conservatives, independents, moderates and fiscally-minded liberals currently have a sense that something is wrong, that amidst all the debates and the many hours of daily media coverage on the election, something isn’t sitting right.
Something feels…well…off.
Though many can’t put their finger on what is wrong, this uneasy feeling remains.
Those who keep an eye on the ups and downs of candidate popularity in the polls, and who watch the unfolding of events from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond (not to mention nearly daily input from the White House), wonder if the problem is simply that the candidates are lacking.
Others take sides with a certain candidate and blame their inner voice of concern on worries that their candidate will lose.
With all the talking heads addressing the election, it is surprising how few people are talking about the real issue.
Make no mistake: the real issue, though it has received almost no press, is the Congressional and Senatorial elections.
All the energy is being sucked into the presidential contest, but it isn’t the most important election of the year.
Since almost everyone who is closely watching the election is focused almost entirely on the run for the White House, it isn’t surprising that most of us instinctively feel that something is missing.
No matter what happens in the presidential election, the makeup of the House and Senate in 2013-2014 is going to determine the future of our economy and nation.
Certainly the inhabitant of the White House will have a role in this, but he won’t be the lead character in the drama.
Not really.
The media, with its nose for celebrity and its fascination with the “almost-royal” nature of the executive, will probably focus on the President during the next three years, just like it has since the post-1945 rise of Washington D.C. as the center of world power.
But the future of the economy, of regulation and deregulation, of deficits, debts, entitlements, tax policy, massive increases or frugal decreases of government spending, of whether the United States will once again become the world’s leading economy or bow to the rise of China–these will be determined by Congressional votes.
The White House will of course raise its voice on these essential issues, but Congress will make the decisions.
So it is a major problem that few of those who pay attention to the election are giving their best efforts to making sure we get a Congress that will make the needed changes.
Independents took their votes away from the ineffectual Republican Congress in 2006 and 2008, and then did the same thing to the regulation-addicted, overspending Democratic House in 2010.
The Tea Parties pushed their own revolution for economic responsibility in 2010 and made it an historic election with a strong message that our leaders simply must get our nation’s financial house in order.
It remains to be seen where independents will stand in 2012, or to what extent the Tea Parties will show up, but anything less than another historic swing in the direction of fiscal responsibility will lead to bigger, more inefficient government and deepening financial crises.  
The reality is that the 2012 election will have a drastic impact on the future of America.
We have reached a point where our fiscal irresponsibility simply must be addressed or we are in for major problems right away.
We cannot sustain current levels of debt and the growth of deficits, spending, regulations, economic impotence, or the further credit downgrades that are ahead unless we make real changes.
If things don’t change soon, we will witness the end of the American experiment in freedom and innovation.
Many Americans seem to understand this, but something is still holding them back from igniting a real outpouring of political passion and involvement.
Voter turnout has been surprisingly small in the contests held so far–and with so much at stake, this is a budding catastrophe.
Is the problem, as many in the media have suggested, that the current field of candidates isn’t particularly exciting for many voters?
Or is it that the onslaught of negative attack ads has driven people not just away from certain candidates but from politics in general?
After all, every candidate has been attacked over and over.
Or is it just that the passion of the 2010 election has worn off, that the people are tired of the constant bickering and would rather focus on other things?
Whatever the reasons for the reduced levels of passion, there is a lot of frustration, anger and interest still simmering under the surface.
But as long as it is focused on the presidential race, it will never reach its potential to change things in lasting ways.
The real battle is the Congressional election, but almost nobody is taking notice of this.
If one of the Republican candidates wins the presidency but doesn’t have a supportive Congress, little will change in Washington.
Our nation simply cannot afford more business as usual–the economy isn’t up to four more years without serious economic upturns that will only come by freeing the economy and incentivizing investment, hiring and growth.
On the other hand, if the Congress is strongly pro-growth, then even a Democratic White House won’t be able to stop the move toward a truly free economy.
In such an election outcome, Congress would likely shut down all major proposed spending proposals from the White House and also go back and repeal or de-fund past regulations that hurt the economy.
The Congress could simply refuse to fund a budget that doesn’t fix our national economic problems, and if the President threatens to shut down the government the Congress could agree to shut down all nonessential functions and happily announce to the American people how much money the shutdown will save per week.
All the pressure would on the Democratic President to acquiesce.
The same pressures could be used to pass plans that create long-term fixes to our debt, entitlements, etc.
In short, the nation needs Congress to be made up of representatives who will vote for less regulation, pro-growth incentives and long-term economic fixes.
Whatever happens in the presidential race, the Congressional race is the key.
The Party system is getting in the way of how people are viewing the 2012 election.
The emphasis on the presidential race is capturing most of the attention and energy, and this is a serious mistake.
This election has the potential to significantly improve the direction of our nation, or to send it spiraling into unmanageable debt and recession, but those who care about freedom and prosperity need to put their focus on the Congressional elections.
That is where the real action is, regardless of how little notice this receives in the media.
Independents, Tea Partiers, moderates, conservatives and fiscally-concerned liberals need to put their focus on the Congressional races of 2012.
Whether President Obama or one of his challengers wins the presidential contest, the future of the nation really depends on what happens in the Congressional elections.
It’s time to get this message out to anyone who cares about the 2012 election and the future of America.
Do you know your local and state candidates?

Are there debates or town meetings in your area?
Who are the local lynch-pins that would benefit from your support, input and participation?
odemille 133x195 custom The Elephant in the Room


Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Featured

What to Look for in 2012

January 3rd, 2012 // 11:26 am @

Here are some things to consider in 2012, several possible trends which could make significant changes in our world by the end of the year ahead:

  1. Barring major events, the news of 2012 will most likely be all about the election, especially the presidential election.But the real potential for election change will be in the Congress.The most important determinant of how America will run after the 2012 election will be whether Congress remains split or if one party gains control of both houses—regardless of what happens in the presidential race.This won’t be the media focus, but those who understand American politics will keep their eye on the coming changes in Congress.
  2. More Democrats are arguing for less government spending.[i]This shift in thinking is getting very little press because the election story is so dominant in the current media.Since few Democrats are using this frustration with government spending as a reason to vote for non-Democrat candidates, it receives sparse coverage.But it is a significant change, regardless.Many Republicans and most independents and moderates believe that Washington spends too much already.

    If more Democrats continue to adopt the same view, it may become a major story in the years ahead.

  3. The credit rating agencies that downgraded the U.S. credit rating in 2011 are still very closely watching the U.S. economy and some indications are that further downgrades could be ahead if the economy continues to struggle.Along with this, for the first time in many decades, U.S. securities are less stable than some other investments,[ii]and money flow away from the U.S. is increasing—especially since the middle of 2011.If these trends continue, U.S. economic challenges could drastically worsen in the next twenty months.
  4. Some leaders in Saudi Arabia have voiced concerns about how the U.S. handled Egypt, especially President Mubarak, during the 2011 Arab Spring.[iii]As the popular uprising grew, the Obama Administration eventually suggested that Mubarak step down.Regardless of whether or not this was the right approach, the sentiment among some Saudi and other Middle Eastern leaders goes something like this: “If that’s how the U.S. treats its allies, do we really want to trust Washington for anything?”Ironically, many in Israel are feeling the same emotion.Add to this the under-reported influence of Saudi investors in major European and U.S. businesses and banks, and this trend may be the most impactful in years to come.

    Western economic dependency on Middle East oil is well known, but the bigger danger may come from direct investment in businesses and banks.

    If massive sums of Petro Dollars were pulled from Western banks, for example, the term “too big to fail” would take on a whole new meaning.

  5. We have been warned about cyber terrorism for some time now. Is 2012 the year?
  6. Will Israel bomb an Iranian nuclear facility?[iv]If so, how will the Obama Administration react?
  7. Ironically, a focus on jobs may finally become a focus in Washington during the election year of 2012. The bad news is that the parties are unlikely to work together to make real changes.Hopefully, this turns out to be untrue, but if current trends continue little will actually occur.

The good news in all this is that a relatively few changes would bring a drastic positive change in momentum and infuse the nation with positive innovative energy.

For example, four changes could establish a massive change of direction and rebirth of American success (like the shift in American perspective which occurred when Reagan took over leadership from Carter).

The four include:

1) a rollback of all federal policies since 2000 that have hurt small business and dis-incentivized innovation, growth and hiring

2) an effective long-term policy to fix the problem with entitlements, balance the budget and get control of our national debt

3) a restructuring of American education funding to support technical training, community colleges and other non-traditional methods to increase the competitiveness of our workforce

4) a move away from international invasions and wars abroad while maintaining a strong national security presence

I am not predicting that these will occur, but they would be greatly beneficial to the nation if they did.

Finally, each year brings its share of surprises.

For example, who could have guessed in 2010 that the year ahead would bring the death of Osama bin Laden or the refusal of the White House to take leadership in a serious jobs plan?

Whatever comes in 2012, America needs to get its financial house in order and re-incentivize business growth and hiring.

These are vital priorities.

[i] Meet the Press, December 25, 2011

[ii] Face the Nation, December 25, 2011

[iii] Meet the Press, December 25, 2011

[iv] The Atlantic predicted that this might happen in 2011.


odemille 133x195 custom What to Look for in 2012Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &Leadership &Politics

Education Insights: Unschooling Rules (A Book Review)

December 14th, 2011 // 8:27 am @

unschooling rule 184x300 Education Insights: Unschooling Rules (A Book Review)Once in a while a truly great book comes along that you just can’t wait to tell everyone else to read. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich is that kind of book.

I started reading in the afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished.

My first thought when I completed the last page was, “I wish I had written this!” My second thought was, “I need to read this again.”

Those who have read and studied A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) or Leadership Education will find this book especially enjoyable. It covers a lot of TJEd themes, but with its own interesting twist.

As I read it I kept saying, “Yes! Absolutely! Right on!” I haven’t seen a book so totally capture the vision of Leadership Education in home school in a long time.

But I’ll let this outstanding book speak for itself. Here are some quotes from this fabulous little book:

“In many schools across the world, children en masse get dropped off and enter buildings where they become the recipient of linear ‘teaching’ and tests. They go home, do homework, and start over again the next day—all for the goal of preparing them for the next level of school and meeting broad and dubiously constructed standards.”

A better “…type of learning answers such questions as: ‘What do I love doing?’ ‘What is my dream?’ ‘What gives me energy?’ ‘What are my unique strengths?’ and even ‘What is my role in a group?’”

“There are two reasons to learn something: either because you need it or because you love it.”

“Twenty-five critical skills are seldom taught, tested or graded….adapting, analyzing and managing risks…being a leader…gathering evidence, identifying and using boards of mentors and advisors…managing projects, negotiating, planning long term…”

“Don’t worry about preparing students for jobs from an Agatha Christie novel…”

“One computer + one spreadsheet software program = math curricula.”

“Five subjects a day? Really?”

“Maturing solves a lot of problems.”

“Grouping students by the same age is just a bad idea.”

“Tests don’t work. Get over it. Move on.”

“The future is portfolios, not transcripts.”

“Outdoors beats indoors.”

“The predominant academic milieu should be walking. When walking, children can talk. They can think.”

“Under-schedule to take advantage of the richness of life.”

“But it will not be the governments, or their school systems, or other of their institutions that will drive real innovation in reconstructing childhood education. It will be as it already is, the homeschoolers and the unschoolers.”

These are just a sample of the many wise things in Unschooling Rules. As I said, this book fits right in with the TJEd model of leadership education and home school. I highly recommend it book for every parent, teacher and administrator involved in modern education. It is a manual for great learning.

My friend Jeff Sandefer wrote in the forward to this excellent book:

“Each child has a spark of genius waiting to be discovered, ignited, and fed. And the goal of schools shouldn’t be to manufacture ‘productive citizens’ to fill some corporate cubicle; it should be to inspire each child to find a ‘calling’ that will change the world. The jobs for the future are no longer Manager, Director, or Analyst, but Entrepreneur, Creator, and even Revolutionary.”

This is a great book for our time — whether you home school or not. Five stars! I hope you’ll read it right away. If you are new to TJEd, read this great book right along with A Thomas Jefferson Education.

If you’re already familiar with TJEd, Unschooling Rules provides another excellent witness of what really works for truly quality education. This book belongs on every shelf, and its ideas need to be in every mind!


odemille 133x195 custom Education Insights: Unschooling Rules (A Book Review)Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Family &Leadership

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