This, We Believe #2:
Change can be good — if we make it so.
Our entire world is quickly moving into a Third Industrial Revolution — a convergence of new technologies in energy, communications, and travel which, together, create whole new systems, new jobs, new opportunities, and new economies.
The first Industrial Revolution of the mid to late 1800’s saw the coming together of coal, the locomotive, and the telegraph. The second Industrial Revolution saw the rise of oil, the car, and the telephone. And now, in our own day, we see the coming together of renewable energy, the Internet of things, and autonomous travel. Total system change.
Other nations have figured this out. Other countries are rebuilding their national infrastructure and preparing their children for this new economic future. But the United States is not. Instead of anticipating change, our President denies science. Instead of strengthening our country with modern investments, he weakens it with extravagant tax cuts for the super-wealthy.
But no people ever gave their kids a better future by making their own country weaker. We can learn from the past without living in the past. Americans are naturally inclined to look forward. And this hopeful truth remains — the United States is better positioned than any nation on the planet to succeed in this Third Industrial Revolution.
We won the last two Industrial Revolutions not by building walls around our present, but by building bridges to new opportunities. We educated our children at higher and better levels for the new skills of those new economies. We made our country stronger, not weaker; we made our nation more competitive, not less. We made smart national investments to modernize our energy and transportation systems and to accelerate our innovation advantages. It was a winning combination of actions that built the largest and most prosperous middle class the world had ever known.
But today, in this season of political fear, many of our neighbors would rather apply the brakes to change than make our children winners in a new economy. At a time of rising income inequality — brought about by our own poor policy choices — we have now elected a carnival barking strongman whose policies actually concentrate wealth, hold down household incomes, hurt farm incomes, and make income inequality even worse. His behavior weakens America’s security alliances. His behavior isolates America morally and economically from our closest allies.
Great nations sometimes make bad mistakes; good nations correct them quickly.
There is a better way forward. And it begins by turning around to face and shape the future. As we won the last two Industrial Revolutions, we can win this one too. But our success will only be found when we align our strategic choices as a nation to the timeless values we hold as Americans:
Our belief in the freedom and dignity of every individual person.
Our belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good we share.
Our understanding that we are all in this together, and “we must help each other if we are to succeed.”
This, We Believe.