Introduction


For over two centuries, citizens of the American Republic have been on quite a ride. The country has seen innovation and perseverance create undeniable gains for all. The road taken has seldom been straight or smooth. Individuals certainly experience different outcomes. Despite the often bumpy and undulating road travelled – the people of the country have enjoyed steady gains for themselves towards a better tomorrow.

In the last 10 years, the formerly reliable paths of progress have broken down. A massive central government, sensational and partisan media and every more technology are slow us all down.

We not only can’t seem to agree where to go – we barely know where we are anymore.

The country has ceased to move forward, and we’re all busy yelling and blaming each other. We’re here to tell you reality: the car of progress has broken down.

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A traditional common sense approach to ideas and solutions for society – has vanished. Little time is spent actually collaborating or compromising now for the greater good. Instead of different people working together, we are told we are all separate, identifiable only by arbitrary groups we are categorized by. We are distracted and whipped into a frenzied cartoon dust cloud – and the truth is simply obscured.

Independent thinking and pragmatic debate are replaced by tribal echo chamber of self-righteousness. Grounded and authentic discussion has been abandoned in favor of some strange rivalry that pits people against people – for reasons that have remained unclear to most. Denigrating the other side seems more important than understanding them. ‘Our team is good, their team is bad’ – it’s basic thinking, at best.

From the highest government positions to frustrated millennials arguing online – the country is now a land of no real discussion, and certainly no compromise.

The accelerator is pressed to the floor, the engine is screaming, the car body creaks and groans in protest while making one heck of a racket.

But the real problem goes undiagnosed – a complete lack of traction.

As wheels spin wildly on a car, they do two things: create noise and smoke. Both of those things do something else – they obscure our vision of what’s really occurring. Like smokescreen – no one is sure which way to go. The smoke is thick, the noise is loud – no practical discussion is possible in this environment.

Before our country can move again, in any direction, we have to realize we’re going nowhere like this.

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Today, all anyone wants to discuss is who gets to drive, and where they want everyone to go. The reality that is obscured in all the noise and smoke – no matter who is behind the wheel, our car isn’t in any state to drive like this. Not only are there are systematic differences between 2020 and 1776, but, there are at least 10 reasons discussed below, about what forces keep us here, in this awful state we’re in, right now.

One thing that is a given, is that the United States today is wildly more complex than it was at its founding. The population is ~100 times bigger. There are now 50 states spread across 6 time zones. Electricity and computers exist. Airplanes, the internet, satellites and cell phone. It’s a globally connected world that we share with 7.8Billion other people.

Everything is different.

But the car we all share to drive into the future hasn’t changed. And, really, it was designed for changes… it was built to be adaptable. Sure, some upgrades were bolted on over the years, but it’s somewhat amazing our car has gotten us all this far. But, we haven’t done that important work, and now it doesn’t work that well for most people.

To go further, faster, as society now demands, to adapt to a very changed world – it is time to do more than quick fixes to our car. We don’t need to change some of the fundamental principles but at this point, the problems are more foundational than we might assume.


The good news, is all of this can be addressed. This car can absolutely be made to run like new. There is a real reason to be optimistic. In two hundred plus years, this country has achieved truly great things. Even the most pessimistic person realizes we’ve come a very long way. And yes, we have further yet to go….

The reality is, before those discussions can occur on where we wan to go next – we need to look over the vehicle that will get us there.

Society can’t expect to make much progress, with a broken down car with bald tires, a busted radiator, a dead battery and empty gas tank. No matter where people want to drive – if the car won’t run, we can’t go far.

Consider the writing that follows as a list of issues with the car that should be reviewed.

You probably know these, but, in the smoke and noise of spinning tires, and the endless assault on our common senses day in and day out – you are not alone if you say “huh, yeah, I knew these were problems, but, I couldn’t really put my finger on them.”

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The goal here is not consensus, nor prescription of solutions. The goal is to attention to the *actual* issues that are undermining our ability to get back on the road.

No matter where we decide to go, or who will drive – we’re not going far if we don’t fix the car.