Oh see, now I never would have thought this was our exact problem, but David Brooks schools me otherwise:
Maybe before we can build great monuments to leaders we have to relearn the art of following. Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes: that we are all created equal but that we also elevate those who are extraordinary; that we choose our leaders but also have to defer to them and trust their discretion; that we’re proud individuals but only really thrive as a group, organized and led by just authority.
I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else.
I guess we all imagined those massive institutional failures of the past 10-15 years, like the failure of our intellgence community to keep the homeland safe, the failure of our government to keep us out of unnecessary wars, the failure of our banking institutions to protect us from financial ruin, or the failure of our media to adequately inform us about the important stuff. Or how about the failure of our very political system to “elevate those who are extraordinary” in the first place.
Stupid plebes. Why can’t you just go back to your small little lives in Iowa or Tennessee or wherever the fuck you people come from and just bake a pie? Leave all the important stuff to us important people with the important lives. If you need to know about something, we’ll be sure to let you know in the New York Times and Washington Post. Until then, go watch “Dancing With The Stars” and “American Idol.” When we need you we’ll call.
You know, there’s been a rash of this stuff lately. I think we the people have hit a nerve with our betters.Power isn’t dead, Sally Quinn. You just don’t have it anymore. We don’t need to stop advertiser boycotts, Sean Hannity and Ed Schultz, you need to stop being misogynist assholes.
We don’t need to shut up. We need to make more noise. This is the great democratization of the public discourse and it seems some people don’t like it. Trying to see the downside here. Nope, can’t find it.