Political leaders and captains of industry in the U.S. like to paint America as a land of opportunity based on a simple premise: work hard, be somewhat ingenious, and you will have the chance to do well. Easy as all-American pie. Of course, things are more complicated in practice, but the straightforwardness of this simple message points to a penchant for individualism that underlies many aspects of our society, and which evolved into its present state far more recently than many Americans suspect. At its best, the cultivation of this quality entails a sense of responsibility and self-awareness that are not as natural to many other cultures. At its worst, putting the individual above all else has resulted in forms of self-interest—and a misguided belief that any policies helping those faced with challenges we do not share verge on socialism—that go against many of the founding fathers’ reasoned principles. The second facet of this phenomenon is a relatively new interpretation of American values that may in fact have been encouraged by a form of active engagement that has had unforeseen consequences. … Read More Are Data-Driven, Lean Approaches Impeding American Innovation?
It was only a matter of time before the obvious comparison between Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen was drawn. With Trump’s continued success in the polls leading to the Republican 2016 presidential primary election, even the American press has gotten in on the game. However, at its core, the juxtaposition is flawed.
Trump has nowhere near the intelligence, credentials or political chops of Le Pen. Nor does he have the family baggage. (Among other things, Marine Le Pen’s father and predecessor as head of the Front National party, Jean-Marie, wore his racism as a public badge of honor and was convicted of holocaust denial.) Even the characteristic that, leaving aside racially-charged discourse, most seems to bring together the two public figures—their seemingly unabashed willingness to speak their minds—is in fact a further indicator of their difference: thus far in his campaign, Trump has been brash and eager to give unfiltered, off-the-cuff speeches (though often retroactively retracing his steps), while Le Pen’s success as a politician and a strategist is in part due to her uncanny ability to make vague statements that sound grand and always patriotic, but are in fact cunningly calculated to elicit the broadest possible appeal by speaking to her audience on several levels. When she is in her best form, Le Pen allows her supporters to infer her support of their most radical views, while leaving her opponents hard pressed to find concrete statements to attack. Trump, on the other hand, has all the subtlety of an enormous tank. … Read More Donald Trump, Making America Anxious Again