The recent declaration that Congress will attempt to repeal health care reform passed last year, along with other obstructionist ditties, leave me a bit off kilter going into my vacation next week.
Last month I took an emotional intelligence test and got my debrief this week. To be candid, it revealed I spend too much time in Joy and Love, and need to get more in touch with my Anger, Anxiety, and Fear. I kid you not.
Ok. Those “problem-areas” are all lit up by observing the gin / whiskey-swilling, backdoor deal-making, money-grubbing, pigs-at-the-trough, paralysis potentates that pass for our elected representatives in Congress, and btw, always have done.
Given national crises in the areas of jobs, hunger, health care, war, and luxury problems such as real estate prices, it’d be insanity to think the current crew in the House and Senate will leave things better than they found them.
Aiiieeey. This is me getting in touch with my Anger, Anxiety, and Fear.
On that note, then, here are a few thoughts:
I find myself wondering what kind of national bottom we have to hit before our elected officials, so prone to tinkering with and preserving the status quo, will take on more ambitious innovation or reinvention for a greater good.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some change being better than no change, but I certainly wouldn’t assess what’s going on now as in the same galaxy as anything related to innovation.
Like Roberto Unger and his idea of “Institutional Fetishism,” as I said before, I call this “status quo fetishism”—the tremendous drive among elected officials to tinker rather than transform policy and law into something better. They see any rapid or major change as a threat: destabilizing, too risky, or too hard.
To know someone well is to understand what they fear, and what they desire. They, like all of us, mainly fear not getting what they want, or losing what they have. They desire to love (spend on) and be loved (get money from) those around them. It’s no leap of faith to get why they’re quite cautious about jumping on the reinvention / transformation bandwagon.
Building modestly on what is, jiggering with it, making small corrections, yet preserving the corpus of it becomes their key driver—status quo is the object of their desire. Change, particularly wholesale change is ambiguous and unknown—and even worthy of repeal. So like addicts, they can get back to what they know … maybe it smells bad, but at least it’s familiar.
These leaders aren’t evil—they’re just stuck, and their challenge is to recognize that status quo fetishism is a long term threat to sustainability for all of us, and grow a pair, not be afraid to lose their job at the next election, and get the frak back to the best of what they are: people clever and motivated enough to get elected. Channel that energy to come up with the vision and resources to change for the greater good.
As much as I want to steep in my anger, anxiety, and fear, in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to vilify these leaders. Yes, I want to love them as a neighbor, help them recognize the syndrome, and take it as a lesson in leadership that helps us understand and recover as a society.
The Recovering Leader