Media keeps calling it "leadership"—the thing that had been missing in 45's administration, that Biden restored. But 45 was a leader of sorts. His base was drawn to that. What he lacked was the competence to manage the parts of government we rely on.
As a public, we lack competence too. We interview prospective leaders but not on how policy will work. Just please sound sure. We'll vote promises, fear, hope. That's why education must be in reach of everyone: so we ask harder questions and understand the answers. Democracy cannot not survive an uneducated public.
Politics must care about science because policies must address what the world throws at us. Science can't fully predict the future, but it can report the odds, letting us be more prepared. To Ignore such a potential edge shows willful lack of competence.
Climate Change is here, gaining steam. To oppose addressing it is willful denial and plain incompetence. A partisan divide over simple, unavoidable truth makes no sense, but if the GOP wants to draw the line there, say it plainly: They're the Party of Incompetence.
There is a lot of work to do ahead. 45 left things in shambles, some borne of evil profiteering intent, other parts of manifest incompetence of the highest order. Even when dug out from that, we have big problems afoot. We need competent solutions.
Let go of centrism, which says no matter the problem, modest solutions are enough, an incompetent claim. Big problems may need big solutions.
- Identify compassionate goals. (Or why bother?)
- Fairly express problems.
- Offer competent solutions.
- Only then, lead.
Recent shifts in diversity and inclusion are a good start at compassion and fairness. Campaign funding reform is key, too. Properly representing We The People lays foundation to solve the right problems. Competently describing and solving problems will do the rest.
The GOP fancies itself the party of values. Dems have values, too, but have been incompetent at articulating them. That must change.
Compassion. Fairness. Competence. Leadership.
Pick a simple set like I've offered here. Repeat them every single day for 4 years.
The previous President had very few competencies, and terrible values. There is not a lot to learn from him other than what not to do. But he knew how to get a message out. The messages he picked were terrible. But repeating them daily clearly had an effect on many voters.
Democrats should learn from that—not the messages, but a way to deliver messages so they sink in. Daily repetition is essential.
And did I mention repetition helps? It's part of competent messaging.
Bill Clinton's campaign was famously designed around the mantra "It's the economy, stupid." I would almost suggest the phrase "It's the competence, stupid." but calling each other stupid won't get us far.
Also, competence isn't the whole of it, just something recently and conspicuously missing in the GOP. Actually, all of these important qualities are lacking in the GOP, except leadership.
The GOP does offer leadership, but of a pure authoritarian kind.
- GOP policy lacks compassion.
- GOP policy lacks fairness.
- GOP policy lacks competence.
That's why articulating values in this way matters.
- These are not words you can usefully attack.
- These are not words you can easily forge.
- These are words that most voters would say they care about.
Plus, in difficult times, well-articulated values can cut through political disagreements. They serve as a compass to remind us of where we're going, why we're going there, and why it matters to choose plans that really get us there.
If you got value from this post, please “share” it.
This post began as a Twitter thread I posted on Feb 20, 2021.