I am a businessman who never did anything in politics until about 7 years ago. However, I believe with the uncharted waters of the political environment now roiling daily, business people like myself must step up to the plate to revitalize our democracy.
We must require a higher standard from our elected officials. A new paradigm of politics -- one based on civil political discourse, critical thinking, and personal accountability -- can and should be demanded by the electorate of its leadership, and the time to do so is now.
As I reflect on the entrepreneurial spirit that has made our country great, and our ability as a nation from the first vision of our founding fathers to reflect upon our mistakes and to correct those mistakes, I can’t help but ask why aren’t more of us willing to make the commitment to revitalizing the democracy we all believe in?
Is it that we don’t think we can make a difference? If that is the case, perhaps if more of us knew that indeed there are many inspiring business leaders, university leaders, political leaders, and citizen leaders who are not waiting for government to solve our problems more of us would become involved.
Leaders like Howard Schultz, the retired CEO of Starbucks, are inviting all of us to put citizenship over partisanship. This thought reflects the belief of millions of Americans who want our elected officials to start acting in a responsible manner and put country before party -- or special interests.
We MUST come together as a citizenry and country to work toward developing win-win solutions that transcend party lines. Given the recent revelations on the misuse of personal data and manipulation of public sentiment to shift culture, this is even more imperative.
And so I ask those who have the economic ability to ask this simple question:
How can we as leaders, as the economically privileged, use our wealth and our expertise and our imagination and empathy to revitalize and reform our democracy?
I believe "a few thoughtful people can change the world.” As a businessman, I am not so naïve to think it will be easy.
To make it happen we need “Big Ideas,” the big ideas that have always moved our great country forward. Isn’t this type of thinking what we did in our careers?
If we make the same commitment to our democracy that we do to resolve business challenges, we can represent the antidotes to our nation’s ailments and take immediate action to improve the divisions that divide our country.
I know this to be true because as president and co-founder of the Bridge Alliance, an alliance of 82 organizations putting country before party, I see citizens in leadership positions across the country taking action themselves, rather than waiting for government to take action.
I see organizations working to fix our politics, improve our governance, engage our citizens, and cross today’s political gulf.
The Bridge Alliance is well on its way to creating the political and social infrastructure so badly needed to amplify the energy of the many organizations working independently within the political reform movement.
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And so, if you have the concern that our leadership in Washington lacks both the civility and critical thinking needed to address the great problems facing our country, please join me and others to create a grassroots effort to activate and generate the positive changes our country so profoundly needs.
Many of my friends and associates say the system can never change. I say that our Founding Fathers were considered to be idealists by some, and that the Constitution they designed still endures 200-plus years later. We can and must build upon their brilliant and exemplary framework to finish what they collectively intended.
So again, I ask: