How to Lead in a Declining Democracy
Misinformation and lies from adversaries to US citizens. Ok.
Misinformation and lies from US politicians to US citizens. Ok.
Misinformation and lies from the Supreme Court to US citizens. We’re not ok.
As much as I am very much supportive of choice, the kicker for me this week wasn’t the Roe upset, it was the justices’ misrepresentation of the Kennedy football case. It is one thing for justices to interpret incidents from different lenses, however, it is an entirely different problem when the justices are not in agreement on the incident and what occurred.
How do we lead in this environment of two narratives when members of the highest court are guilty of creating the one further from the truth?
How do we lead through one of our political groups applying abusive tactics of minimizing, gaslighting, and engaging in fighting with so much consistency that no one has time for moments of clarity?
How does a leader bring the fight back while maintaining sanity and well-being? How does a leader help others do the same? Is there a battle rhythm like the literal summer battles of our recent war conflicts?
What happens to democracy when there are back-to-back hearings attempting to hold corruption accountable? How do representatives function when they are being constantly drawn into conflicts? How do citizens function with the turmoil and uncertainty?
I propose the following topics when it comes to leading in this type of environment. I think many of these are probably common in community movements, but the US is made of public and private sectors in which leaders are now managing similar environments, whether officially or unofficially providing guidance.
Managing expectations — energy may be used just to maintain the status quo rather than make progress. Accept the reality of where things are and be realistic when communicating potential success.
Developing backbone in honest and moral leaders and citizens — teach others to “put your neck on the line,” so to speak. Speak up. Choose to push for what is right over harmony. Feelings are important, but action is respected.
Encouraging the people who have the power to use it — again, support people who need to be willing to put their neck on the line. Know that the majority is going to be supportive. Know that anyone with power will probably wish they had done more, not less.
Navigating around the system — relationships, strategy, other avenues.
Reducing expectations — gains might only result in time to rest. Things may not get better on the macro level.
Helping others find joy — there are still things to enjoy and there are millions of good, honest people.
Helping others find (or at least feel) agency — be ok with people disassociating and coming back. Help those coming back develop an idea, however small, that might bring a small success. Take control over mornings, your evenings, gather with others, brainstorm. Think big and small, but take it off social media and out into the world…or put it into an article :)
I don’t mean this to be dramatic or alarmist, this is what has already been happening and the direction hasn’t adjusted. The recent decisions are confirmation of how far off things have gone. There will always be some corruption, some false narratives, especially in politics. Not having presidents who represent the population was blamed on the electoral college, it was inconvenient. Dealing with multiple narratives among the population in 2020 was annoying and clearly played to any adversary’s advantage. It was frustrating and a bad sign. Not having justices upholding the truth makes me feel like I am in certain countries that the US used to pity for their hopeless governmental corruption.