2017 ushers in a new era with the realization that the rules in politics and international affairs have been steadily changing over the course of several decades. As those working in the political industries of the world struggle to realign themselves into position that will be favorable, they fail to grasp the nature of change that they have long resisted. In large part, it is because change threatens the wealth and power of those who benefit the most from the status quo. It is also because the affluent and influential have been able to hide from the need for change by ignoring and discrediting change agents so long that they no longer know how to change. More importantly, it is because change requires them to risk their wealth and power.
The US, which happens to be the world’s only superpower and happens to influence the policies of all countries, expects great change, for better or worse, under President Donald Trump. Like once-inexperienced President Barack Obama, who campaigned on a “change” mantra, yet tended to defer to public and foreign policy precedent, Trump is a change agent who will shake things up in certain areas, neglect the need for change in others, and push regression in other areas that were changed for the better. Having campaigned as anti-Obama, Trump is expected to initially embrace the inverse of Obama, which means rejecting traditional Republican stances as well. Trump is not, however, likely to maintain his anti-Obama, anti-Washington status while he is fated to become a transitional leader in a much larger campaign for change.
There are many, especially those on the Right, who criticize President Obama for the changes he brought to US public policy, but the biggest complaint from across the political spectrum is that he was unable to foster the right amount and the right kind of change that was needed. In many respects, Left-leaning Obama tried to govern from the Middle with his attempts to address the interests of all Americans and to compromise with a Right bent on paralyzing government, but he had his own brand of “change” that failed to change the system in the areas and the ways change was needed. Like Obama, Trump will take office and try to enact his own brand of “change” that will shake things up in certain areas, neglect the need for change in others, and push regression in areas that were changed for the better. His brand of change will be insufficient.
The problem is that even President Donald Trump has his own political agenda and public policy priorities that will reflect the political agendas of special interests and those individuals affiliated with Mr. Trump. Ultimately, the problem is that the kind of change instituted by political leaders like Donald Trump and Barack Obama is not the change voters, as well as non-voters, expect. Government works best when public policies reflect and address the interests of all citizens. It is the ability of leadership to represent and balance the interests of citizens that ensures proper governance. It is also the ability of government to respond to the changing interests of citizens that ensures proper governance is sustained. In other words, change agents must pursue the agenda and priorities of their People(s), not their own agendas and priorities.
Just as Barack Obama went from being seen as a change-agent to the status quo, Donald Trump faces the same fate. It is, however, only when leadership starts to tell people what kind of change is needed and when change is not needed that this becomes a problem. The People know when change is needed and when proposed changes are the right changes. A leader must learn to listen in order to be successful. It requires those in positions of power to confront their fear of losing their wealth and power with necessary changes. It requires those opposed to change to understand that the failure to change is the greatest threat to their position. No one controls the forces of change; people can only adapt to change or render themselves obsolete.
In rejecting tariff-free trade, Donald Trump aligns himself with the interests of the American People, yet his “anti-globalist” campaign, which appears to dismiss the value of NATO, the UN, and the International Community, threatens to bring about destructive change. In confronting Chinese aggression, Trump is broadly addressing the interests of Asians and Americans. In minimizing the significance of Russian cyber attacks and Russia’s theft of Crimea, Trump is placing the interests of a powerful country and leader above the interests of the weak. In his willingness to embrace Russian-secured Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and condemning Obama’s reasonable criticism of Israel, he is embracing the historic mistake of the US sustaining abusive governance across the Middle East against the Peoples of the region.
Moreover, the world demands change and that change requires one thing: leaders to serve the Peoples of the world, not each other.
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