Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Maybe I should start doing this every week after the weekend break in the hurly-burly of the typical work week. I started this blog to talk about sustainability and, of course, introduce you to the ideas in my book. I have, as you probably now know, pretty deep-seated academic roots although my time in academia came on the tail of a long career in the "real" world of business and government. But given all that is happening out there, I feel OK with straying from this theme and the comfort of academic arguing.
It is hard for me to decide which crisis to follow: the financial market, the election as an indicator of the mess that goes for our political/governance system today, a collapsing global environment, or whatever seems to pop up with increasing frequency.

Let me pick on the political system today. It is clear that the financial and political systems are tightly coupled, no matter what the free market theorists say. The so-called rescue bill was an attempt to put a tourniquet on the bleeding financial system. But this is just a typical quick fix. At least some in the Congress seem to understand this and know that there is much more work to do before the resilience that should be found in the market system returns.

But today I want to focus on the current electoral charade. At no time in my now pretty long life have we had to face so many destabilizing pressures all at once. But the system that informs the electorate and guides their democratic choices is completely broken. The amount of mischievous, malicious crap that goes for political messages is overwhelming. Some want to blame the situation on the way we get our information, that is, the modern electronic media. Certainly this technology abets those who want to subvert the very basis of a democracy, that is, an informed electorate. Although I am clear as to which candidate I will vote for, I see a broken system that cannot be easily fixed.

I wish I could be more optimistic about the change that both candidates promise. The sound bite milieu of television news and advertising spots prevents either candidate from addressing the more nuanced and complexities of the whole system. Maybe they would not even if given a real platform to discuss at length their understanding of what confronts us and what they propose to do about it.

So far I have said little new, The real and largely hidden danger is that, like the financial system that collapsed even as those who should know something about it were extolling its health, the political system may be faced with a similar challenge to its sustainability, that is the ability to continue to undergird our whole democracy. Perhaps the financial crisis will be a wake-up call not only to Wall Street and the Congress, but also to Main Street pointing out that hyper-partisanship and self-interest can produce only Band-Aids. Can our Government stop and be self-reflective for a time? Probably not until the electorate says whoa, not as partisans, but as citizens.