Government is best approached as a reflection of the people, and not the other way around.
When authority figures accurately represent the current beliefs of the people, there is harmony and respect between them as well as a free flow of ideas upward. When authority figures instead represent the views of a particular party or religion or sect or demographic or ethnicity, there ultimately ensues a clash of beliefs between those of the “rulers” and those of the “ruled” (or not so ruled!).
The relationship in the latter case has become inefficient: the free flow of ideas has slowed to a trickle. And much of the attention is directed toward defending one’s own ideas and attacking those of the opposing side. This continues until all progress grinds to a halt, as the leaders have prioritized partisanship over progress.
Meanwhile, the populace continues to change as it always does, only it changes less smoothly. Progress comes in fits and starts, unguided by any remnant of visionary leadership. As a society turns its attention in on itself, it tends to exaggerate its own weaknesses and limitations (as does the individual). It begins to highlight its own negative and limiting beliefs.
If this period of inward examination is short-lived and uneventful (i.e. no wars or major upheavals occur), a society can work out its inefficiencies and eventually embark upon a new stage of growth and progress. This has happened a number of times in the history of the U.S. and many other countries. The people find a way to eliminate the inconsistencies between their leaders and themselves. This typically involves electing new leadership (in the case of a democracy) or removing the old system of authority and installing a new, more efficient system of government.
Over time, the new leaders or system of government introduce new ideas and institutions that address previous inefficiencies. Some of these new ideas and institutions work well and take their place alongside previously successful ideas and institutions that were kept.
Thus an evolution occurs in which new beliefs are blended with old ones to produce a new society, which in turn inevitably generates new and unforeseen inefficiencies. How that new society deals with these new inefficiencies (along with the old ones) will determine how long the new leadership can keep its attention on the future.
If too much energy is devoted to internal issues and disagreements, growth will once again grind to a halt and the leaders will once again grow out of touch with their citizens – and the outside world.
This is a cycle that has existed throughout much of our history. And the pertinent question today is:
Where are we in this cycle?
Has our current leadership grown out of touch with the beliefs and priorities of the populace?
And if so, what methods will we use to eliminate the inconsistencies between our leaders and ourselves?