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Present Shock ?


In his iconic 1970 book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler pointed out how the rate of change was increasing.  At first, it seemed to elaborate the obvious.  However, deeper analysis demonstrated that the rate of change was feeding on itself and would continue to increase at a faster and faster rate.  He argued that we need to increase the speed of our decision-making to accommodate the increased rate of change.  In the 47 years since then, I’ve seen nothing that suggests Toffler was wrong.

During the last six years of the Obama Administration, we had political gridlock in Washington, primarily driven by the radicals elected due to gerrymandering.  I had hoped that the Republican takeover of all branches of government would have resolved the problem of gridlock, but it has not.  The radicals remain.

Now, I read the latest survey out of India, which is the world’s biggest democracy, where 53% of the voters favor a strong-man form of government instead of democracy, just to break the deadlock and get things moving again.  Surveys in Indonesia and South Africa found the same thing — exasperation with democracy.

The strong-man president of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, famously said “democracy is like a street car.  When you get to your stop, you get off.”

It may be that we have out-lived the need for democracy, but many of us still have a romantic notion of what democracy can be and are reluctant to let it die.  The only way to save democracy is to increase the speed of decision-making or legislating in Washington.  How?

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