America had a spectacular 20th Century. If it is to have an equally spectacular – if different - 21st Century, it must be wise, and it will come down to the choices that it makes.
- Does it want to be the picture or the frame?
- Do we want to win by our rules or do we want to set the rules of engagement for the world?
- Said another way, is it all about us, or all about the world?
Whether superpower status was pursued and achieved or thrust upon America, it is a different thing to be one of many, an enabler of the world’s freedom and a people power enabler - the frame rather than the picture.
People come to America for start-ups, for Wall Street, for university – but they then seek to go back to their corner of the universe , thinking that the operating model of America, the tools, the networks, and yes, the spirit of America will help them be the best that they can be.
What is the cause at the heart of the spirit? Because you can’t have energy without an energy source.
What is the Spirit of America? Is it going viral or being snuffed out?
Americans believe they are more free. We believe we are free in the brain, free in our minds, free to be. We are uncluttered with history, untethered by top down structures. We believe that we can make our future, and that it comes down to us. It’s not that we were given more. We create more. It’s not a good picture but a good frame for making pictures, a good operating model for business.
In the world that I see – that I described in my book – WELCOME TO ENTREPRENEUR COUNTRY – I see a world moving from collective exchange (set up after WWII) to peer to peer exchange – primarily because of the power of the web. I don’t think that if the 25 year olds were running Washington today (and they will in 15 years time) that they would create a government that looked anything like what it does today. The macro trends are yes towards connections, but not an intermediary like government doing the connecting.
All smart strategists have to step back from a situation at a certain point, and say, ‘How should this THING called our business, or government, or America work?’
For the business of America is business!! It’s not government. It is the lemon stand. It is the Monopoly Board game. It is the Harvard drop out that makes it big founding Microsoft and then Facebook. It’s the small time farmer who runs his own business. We don’t scratch our heads about what American business looks like. We know.
But we do wonder what American government looks like because only a hundred years ago it was infinitely smaller than it is today, and we can see that there are different views of what it is moving forward - - which the last election drew in sharp relief.
We can create great politicians like Hillary Clinton in her role as Secretary of State. And Obama – what a handsome guy - won because he got the Mood Music right for his election.
But I would prefer that we create great philanthropists like Bill Gates, and the rest of them who give of their wealth to create social change – bottom up around the world. Bill Gates put £1 million into Egypt (announced over the weekend); I love the fact that it is Bill Gates’ money, and that the US is known for its individuals’ generosity as much as for the state’s.
Business not government. Economics trumping politics. Economics – economic strength and growth borne out of talent and freedom drives social change. Politics doesn’t do that.
- If America continues to choose strong economics and the conditions for strong economics, it’s future will be bright.
- If it believes that it should create strong politics in order to try to make life fair, then it will not create a fair society – because life is not fair - but it will create a country which will move towards a reality of the richest poor people ultimately, and its power will diminish accordingly.
In a world of 7 billion people, which is now driven by networks, with huge challenges … The question is not whether America going up or going down, but does the American matter, does the individual still matter, or must we aggregate individuals in order to be strong – aggregate the into nations in order to count, in governments in order to defend?
And here I am certain that the individual is the only thing which matters. Because you cannot be interdependent until you are independent. Freedom drives productivity, empathy, wealth creation. Only with these things at the core of society, can you create a society which matters - rather than a collection of people.
- A future America which moves to centralize and to socialize is moving away from the great macro trends in play.
- A future America which empowers the citizen not through government programs, but by allowing the individual to keep their money in order to dictate their future, which is active locally, empowers people with productivity tools – moves with history.
- A future America whose citizens create massive wealth will continue to have a large portion of them funding growth around the world.
And that is a good thing.