“We the people…” Thus begins the preamble to the American Constitution, 1788
“…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.Abraham Lincoln – The Gettysburg Address, 1863
It is too early to tell how the election of Emmanuel Marcon as President of France and now the landslide victory for his party will be remembered by history. But like the the election of Donald Trump, the implosion of the Torys and the return of Pauline in our own political backyard, they are all symptoms of a rapidly changing political landscape. It is up to us, the people, to influence what that change will look like.
The last 12 months or so have seen many seminal events that in isolation would not necessarily be of too much historical importance, but seen together combine to paint a picture of a world at cross-roads, with many possible future paths, some that would inevitably lead to disaster. Brexit, Donald Trump, the abject failure of the world in general and the Arab world in particular, to find a peaceful solution to the civil war in Syria, allowing the slaughter of innocent civilians to continue unabated, numerous terrorist acts in Europe and elsewhere, the refugee crisis in Europe, the escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea – all underline the rise of, or rather the return to, a divided world where national interests take precedence at the expense of what has over the last few decades been the promising but slow emergence of the concept of a “Global Village”.
It is embodied by Donald Trumps’ brilliantly flawed message of “Making America Great Again”, interpreted by mainstream white Americans as “Back to the Fifties”; Just as Pauline Hanson is so successfully exploiting the politics of fear and division here in Australia. And if we leave it to the established elite, the people elected or otherwise in a position of leadership, it is quite likely that the world will indeed descend into increased division between countries, regions and races, with conflict as the only means of resolving disagreements, a World War III a likely and most terrifying outcome. Unless of course it is usurped by unprecedented environmental disasters brought upon us by our collective inability to act decisively on that front, too.
We, the people, cannot let this happen. But we need to unite now to ensure that the path we take leads to a better place than where we are now. We need to demand of our leaders that change has nothing to do with political parties, the protection of borders, preservation of vested interests, what race or creed we belong to, sexual orientation, how much money we have or who our morning prayers are directed at. Above all we need to hold the leaders we elect to be accountable for their actions, to stop making promises they will not keep, to be transparent and honest in all their dealings, to listen to their constituents not their pollsters and strategists, to have empathy, to be bold and to be true to their word. We, the people, need a very different kind of leadership.
The age of politics is dead, enter the era of informed, open, inclusive and accountable leadership.
To be continued…