About The American Leader
The American Leader is a project informed by the age-old problems of misinformation, disinformation, and partisan propaganda that are now, to one degree or another, acknowledged openly under the single name, fake news. Decades of corporate PR campaigns and party politics have reached new extremes, as partisan agendas have undermined and confused efforts to solve long-term problems. At the same time, partisans have actively sought to suppress the rights of all citizens to equal representation, attacked the credibility our law enforcement and intelligence services, enriched the rich while undermining the ability of the less privileged and fortunate to get ahead, and given voice to those in our society who act on hate and fear of those who are different. Despite the vigilance of the news media, artful and intentional efforts to distort, hide, and distract news consumers from these attacks on the pillars of democracy have eroded faith in the very institutions and individuals who stand for an American flag that demands not blind loyalty but honor, integrity, and trust that none would be left behind.
Our single premise: That solving the problems that impact the most Americans now and in the future is how our elected and business leaders can rebuild that trust and ensure that our democracy survives as a land where we all can equally pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Solving common problems is what brought the thirteen colonies together to start a revolution, the reason education and innovation were the cornerstones of our country’s rise to economic prominence, and why we need to reject the risen tide of hate, intolerance, and divisive politics.
We are at a point in our history where it is time again for us to choose what kind of nation we want to be and to solve the problems before us to support that vision. The American Leader is a news and knowledge center that exists to help each citizen navigate the information and disinformation that reaches them so that each might better fulfill his or her role as a CEO of our democracy.
Our free press has always been vulnerable to manipulation – that is its greatest weakness, and it has given rise to a multi-billion dollar PR industry designed to serve the needs of its clients. It has also created opportunities for enemies of our open society to attack our way of life. In the fragmented infosphere that provides us our windows on the world, the problem has become magnified. On the surface of the 24/7 news stream, all actions seem to be about solving immediate problems – winning the next election, satisfying shareholders with the next financial report, and ensuring that progress is made on your issue regardless of other national priorities. Meanwhile, deep currents of change run beneath our daily news feeds, and only occasionally do we get a clear view of what’s happening beneath the surface. It is the one essential truth of democracy that when the public is able to focus on a problem, politicians typically respond with a solution so that they can keep on winning and holding on to their elected office. In this era of extreme partisanship, however, where radical change in the nation’s policies has been the underlying goal, our view through that window of news media has been clouded by denials that problems exist, campaigns to discredit outspoken leaders, and dangerous actions that have undermined trust in the very institutions on which our democracy depends for its survival.
The American Leader, like democracy itself, is a work in progress that peers beneath the headlines and top stories to focus on problem solving rather than partisan competition. We emphasize results rather than storytelling. We look at issues like the national debt and climate change and wealth inequality through a lens that sees through the partisan propaganda that clouds our news and social media. Unlike the headline driven media, we offer a constant, laser-like view on such systemic issues within a framework that supports the life, liberty, and happiness of all Americans. In doing so, we raise the bar on what we expect from our elected representatives and business leaders – and ourselves.
As the citizen CEOs of American democracy, we the people don’t have to accept the leadership of elected representatives who cast votes for policies that hurt a sizable group of Americans, or what might be worse, for “politically feasible” solutions that make for a good headline but are not likely to be effective. Similarly, we don’t have to accept businesses that fail to take responsibility for the long-term health of the communities they serve. The American Leader is a resource that aspires to put the independent-minded American in a better position to understand the problems we face and to act more decisively in the voting booth, on the job, and in our communities.
Our Guiding Principles
We launch The American Leader at a time when people and the news media are accused of being biased, as if “bias” were a bad thing. To the contrary, without bias – that is, without a favored point of view – we have no motivating force in our lives. However, bias that is unrecognized and unacknowledged by the journalist or her audience can lead to oversights, omissions, and, consequently, unproductive conflict. Thus, our guiding principles are driven by a desire for transparency and a respect for an advanced scientific method that teaches us how to approach knowledge in the public sphere: with humility and much less certainty than we’d like to pretend exists. And with a commitment to acting on the best available knowledge.
- Being informed means acquiring bias. Most of us can probably do a better job at recognizing our own biases in order to engage more productively with people who have a different perspective.
- Bias is not a reason to end debate nor to disregard a person’s point of view; rather, it is a useful starting point for finding common ground. We are concerned that some people who accuse others of being biased do so to close their minds to the views of people who disagree with them and to avoid engaging in common purpose with them.
- Common purpose, not divisive speech or distortion and denial of facts, is what makes America great. Coming together to solve the problems of American society – and then agreeing to the right balance of solutions – is a work in progress.
- Problems don’t go away just because we choose not to believe they are real or because they are inconvenient to our business or our politics. As citizen CEOs, we need to work hard to clarify our different priorities – and understand the priorities of those who disagree with us – and build common ground around the most effective solutions, not just the ones that are easiest to accept.
- Sometimes the differences in priorities are so great that there can be no common ground. It is for these moments when we must make clear choices, and when it is essential that we support the institutions of democracy unequivocally. Only through the effectiveness of these institutions can democracy continue to thrive and all Americans can continue to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities it makes possible.
- Democrats and Republicans are partners in American democracy, just as government and business are partners in sustaining the American economy. When the partners don’t work together, when party is placed before country or business interests ahead of those of the community, we all suffer.