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Browsing Month February, 2012

The New Challenge of Governments

February 28th, 2012 // 10:03 pm @

Globalization is changing the demand on governments around the world. Since the advent of the nation-state in 1648, the purpose of national government has been to protect its citizens from attack by international forces and domestic criminals.

Local government has focused on providing the various needs of citizens as deemed appropriate by voters and constitutional by the courts, and together these two levels of government (national and state in the U.S.) have been responsible for certain limited roles; the rest was left to private institutions and citizens.

With the growth of internationalism in the twentieth century, many governments took on the additional responsibility of helping its citizens prosper through the use of diplomacy, military strength and multilateral decision-making abroad.

Such responsibilities included, for example, the safety of citizens traveling the world, the protection of international investments by domestically-owned corporations, and the maintenance of trade and low prices in important commodities (from sugar to petroleum).

Where internationalism added a few such roles to many national governments, globalism is rewriting the entire purpose of government.

And where internationalism assumes a world made up of various separate nations with individual sovereignty and diplomatic arrangements between equals, globalism is based on a different perspective.

In the globalist view, we live in one world, everything that happens everywhere affects us all, and government should care for citizen needs by taking action around the world as needed to protect and promote the best results for its constituents.

Basically nothing is off limits.

This adds numerous implied responsibilities to governments that embrace the globalistic worldview.

For people who believe government should be limited to the authorities explicitly delegated by the people in the Constitution (as I do), this is a disturbing development.

It is becoming a concern for everyone as time passes.

On a technical level, the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to engage in and ratify treaties with other nations, and when this occurs these treaties become part of the de facto constitutional structure of our nation.

In the era of internationalism (beginning around 1913 and expanding ever since, especially after 1944), the treaty powers have been used to drastically change our Constitutional model.

This is part of the “fine print” of our Constitutional society, and it has been ignored by almost all ordinary citizens.

But the shift from internationalism to globalism is a significantly bigger change (in size and also scope) than the shift from nationalism to internationalism.

Under the new values and ideals of globalism, the role of government is, well, everything it deems desirable.


This viewpoint is fundamentally the end of limited government.

Government in the global era is expected to survey the world, see needs, debate and vote about them, and pass legislation or issue executive orders to deal with whatever the government deems advantageous—the Constitution notwithstanding.

This includes taking action at the most local and personal level, including in peoples’ homes and family decisions, and also at the macro-level in any and every corner of the world.

This is big government gone über.

In this view, government should do whatever is needed to accomplish whatever it considers popular or important.

The courts are allowed to sort out whether or not such action was acceptable, but only after the fact. No checks stop such government action and no balances are required before the government can act.

This is more than big government; it is closer to the philosophy of governance that Hobbes called Leviathan.

No wonder the government hasn’t yet figured out quite how to respond to this changing sense of the state’s proper role.

Congressman Paul Ryan argues that the federal government doesn’t have a tax problem but rather a spending problem, but according to this new viewpoint of globalism the U.S. is going to have to spend a lot more—a lot more!—in the years and decades ahead to fulfill its proper role.

From this perspective, our federal spending spree is just getting started, and the only way to meet the need is to fundamentally reform taxation and get the upper and upper middle classes to foot the bill for a globalist government run from Washington.

In this outlook, we’ll need to keep raising the budget every year and the required spending is deeply underfunded.

Only massive increases in taxes can get us moving in the right direction.

The old debate between Conservatives and Liberals just doesn’t rise to the level of this new challenge, and the current energy in Washington is focused on a globalistic agenda that anticipates drastic increases in government for decades to come.

Georgetown University’s Charles A. Kupchan, wrote:

“A crisis of governability has engulfed the world’s most advanced democracies. It is no accident that the United States, Europe and Japan are simultaneously experiencing political breakdown; globalization is producing a widening gap between what electorates are asking of their governments and what those governments are able to deliver.” (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012)

Globalism is leading to a natural decrease in the living standard of developed nations, and citizens of such nations are turning to government to help bring back the lifestyles they’ve grown accustomed to enjoying.

As the lower and middle classes of the world join the global economy, and as competition for investment and credit is spread around the globe, the special benefits that the middle classes in advanced nations have carved out for themselves are becoming unsustainable.

The middle class was created by generations who worked very hard to earn such benefits, but their posterity seems to prefer keeping these same perks without putting forth the same effort.

When this doesn’t work, they want their government to simultaneously block immigrants from “taking our jobs” and also find ways to maintain their parents’ lifestyle without having to earn them the same way earlier generations did.

Except for the entrepreneurial class—and government is increasing the barriers to entrepreneurship.

This is painful.

And it forces a choice at the voting booth: either more freedom coupled with harder work on the one side or higher taxes on the rich combined with more government benefits on the other.

The “government fix” approach is predictably more popular.

The real answer is to re-establish a truly free system, where the government limits itself to the authority outlined in the Constitution and the laws are altered to re-emphasize true free enterprise where the laws treat everyone (lower, middle and upper classes) equally.

Freedom works, and a refocus on freedom will once again make America’s economy the envy of the world.

Capital, investment and entrepreneurialism aren’t fleeing the United States because of globalism but because Washington’s policies have made the U.S. economy less profitable and attractive to business.

Unless the United States returns to a genuine free-enterprise model, our long-term economic trajectory will decline.

The battle has changed, though most people haven’t realized it yet.

Now it’s less about Left vs. Right and more the burgeoning issues of Free Enterprise vs. Globalism.


odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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.

Category : Blog &Current Events &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Politics &Statesmanship

Resolve to read this book.

February 25th, 2012 // 8:37 am @

A review of Orrin Woodward’s game-changing new book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE

by Oliver DeMille

The freedom of any society is directly related to the quality of books that are widely read in that society. That said, there are some books everyone should read, like The Federalist Papers and Democracy in America.* And in a society like ours where we are desperate for more leaders at all levels, truly excellent books on leadership are vital to the future of freedom.

I recently read a book on leadership that everyone simply must read. It is Resolved, by Orrin Woodward.

I’ve read Woodward’s books before, so when this one arrived in the mail I put away everything else and read it straight through. It kept me up most of the night, and it was so worth it!

This is a fabulous book on leadership. It outlines 13 resolutions every person should make in our modern world, and gives specific helps on how to turn them into habits. Indeed, this book could be titled The 13 Habits of Success and Happiness for Everyone. The stories and examples from great leaders of history and current events are moving and uplifting. I literally have never read a better book on leadership than this one.

Woodward’s book is on par with the great leadership works like:

It is truly a revolution in leadership books.

The 13 resolutions are exactly what we need leaders to adopt across our society. They are applicable to family and home leadership, community and business leadership, and societal and national leadership. They apply to the United States and other countries, and together they form a blueprint for renewing America and innovating a new and better Western Civilization.

The book is divided into three parts: private resolutions, public resolutions and leadership resolutions. Each of the 13 resolutions build upon each other, and together they create an effective and motivating system of becoming a better person and leader. They help the reader improve in career and in societal impact.

This focus on societal leadership is both timely and profound. In the 1950s we experienced a major “leader-shift” in society. Before World War II, most communities were led by professionals—doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc.—and before that by big landowners and even earlier tribal chiefs. The management revolution started by Edward Deming and popularized by Ray Kroc changed the focus of leading society from professionals to managers. This was captured in William Whyte’s great 1956 classic The Organization Man.

By the 1980s another major leader-shift occurred, this time from management (“do things right”) to leadership (“do the right things”). The great transitional classic of this shift was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It outlined 7 habits that leaders needed in order to help their companies excel, and these habits became part of the mainstream language: for example, “Be Proactive,” “Think Win-Win,” and “Synergize.” Another great classic of this shift was Synergetics by Buckminster Fuller. The leadership revolution brought a whole new vision of what is means to be a leader.

Today we are witnessing a similar leader-shift, this time from leadership of organizations (“do the right things”) to leadership of society (“move society in the right direction”). Woodward’s Resolved is a seminal classic in this change. In fact, some of the early books in this change include Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey, and Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman.

Woodward is more than an author; he has actually put these 13 resolutions to work in his business leadership. For this leadership, Orrin Woodward was named the 2011 International Association of Business’s Top Leader of the Year Award. His book Resolved outlines how we can all become such leaders.

In Resolved, Woodward shares a host of ideas and effective means of using family, business and societal leadership to impact the world. For example, he shows how Gibbon and Toynbee taught the laws of decline that are now attacking our culture and modern free nations.

He shows the three types of freedom and why they depend on each other—and how the loss of one is actually a loss of all. He helps leaders understand how freedom and character are inseparable and at the root of all societal progress and therefore leadership. His model of “Leadership Legacy” alone is worth the price of the book, and adds a whole new dimension to leadership literature.

Woodward adds several other new models to the leadership genre. He shows how five important laws from science, economics and history (Sturgeon’s Law, Bastiat’s “Law,” Gresham’s Law, the Law of Diminishing Returns, and the Law of Inertia) are combing in our current world, and what leaders need to understand and do about these five laws—individually and collectively.

These five laws are already part of our mainstream culture, but the analysis of how they are working together and what future leaders must do about it is new, deep and profound. No leader can afford not to understand this cutting-edge thinking.

On a stylistic note, Woodward consistently uses fascinating quotes, ideas, stories, historical examples and even one equation in ways that make the reader see things in a whole new way. For example, he puts an intriguing new twist on Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect, a poem by Yeats, Systems Theory, the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, credit card usage, American Idol, the “TriLateral Leadership Ledger,” the IBM way, Aristotle on true friendship, and many other delightful references from every field of thought –all written in a highly understandable and enjoyable way.

After I read Resolved the first time, I placed it next to my work chair and each day I open it randomly and read the quotes or stories on whatever page opens. It is always uplifting. Here are a few topics I’ve studied in Resolved during such random reading:

  • Why courage isn’t pragmatism
  • Producers vs. Exploiters
  • A commentary on Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Principle
  • The common reasons 23 major civilizations in history declined, and how we can avoid their mistakes
  • The combining of mind, heart and will
  • Charles Garfield on Success through Visualization
  • Will Smith’s work ethic
  • Never whine, never complain, never make excuses—and what to do instead
  • Woodward’s 10 principles of financial literacy (Wow! Every American should study these.)
  • Five steps for effective conflict resolution—in family, business and beyond
  • How to really build business systems that work
  • Henry Hazlitt’s economics in one lesson—and how to really understand the economy
  • The conflict between creativity and realism in national leadership

There is so much more. In one example, Woodward quotes G.K. Chesterton after he was asked to write an essay on “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton wrote simply: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.” This, in summary, is what Resolved is all about. The rest of the book, all 13 resolutions, teaches us how to effectively become the leaders the world needs—and that we were born to be.

This book has articulated the leadership motto of the 21st Century: “It has been said that everyone wants to change the world but few feel the need to change themselves. Even a basic study of history, however, demonstrates that those who first focus upon self-improvement usually ending up doing the most good in the world.”

Gandhi taught the same sentiment when he said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world, and Woodward quotes Confucius in saying that those who want to improve the world must ultimately focus on bettering themselves.

Buddha is credited with saying that our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life, and then to give our whole heart and soul to accomplishing this purpose. Perhaps no generation more exemplified such leadership by example than the American founders, and Woodward discusses them and their words (especially Washington and Franklin) at length in showing us how to become the leaders we meant to be.

Woodward also shows examples of effective leadership from such greats as Sam Walton, John Wooden, Ludwig von Mises, and Roger Bannister, among others.

I could go on and on. Resolved really does, in my opinion, mark a leader-shift to a whole new level of leadership training for the new Century. If you are only going to get one book on leadership, this is the one. What a great book. Our whole society needs to study more about leadership, and apply what we learn.

*Links to book titles provided for your convenience in reviewing and purchasing referenced books. Any purchases on amazon initiated from these links result in amazon sharing a portion of their profits with TJEd. Thanks so much for your support!



odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Business &Entrepreneurship &Family &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers &Prosperity &Service &Statesmanship

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 Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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.

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 Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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.

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?


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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