We entered a new cycle of history during 2013.
Like any cycle, this one started small. But it is growing quickly, and it is already swaying the future.
To understand this, let’s briefly go back to the beginning — when this cycle was first described.
Taylor’s main point was that the Anglo world had been focused on forms of government for too long, ever since 1787 when the Americans wrote their Constitution. Taylor noticed that that there are two main types of political leadership:
- Setting up forms and systems of government (statesmanship)
- The business of governing (politics)
The first, which consists mostly of writing and discussing what is the best constitution or model of government, is always led by statesmen.
The second, which consists of day-to-day politics that focus on the issues, is dominated by political parties, special interest groups, politicians, and bureaucratic agencies.
The first usually emphasizes freedom and liberty, while the second is all about increasing government spending and regulations.
Statesmanship vs. Politics
In 1836, Taylor’s message was that Europe and America had spent sixty years focused on the first kind of leadership, and he argued that it was time, in his words,
“to divert the attention of thoughtful men from forms of government to the business of governing.”
It was statesmanship versus politics, and Taylor believed that it was time to forget statesmanship for a while and emphasize politics. The era of the politician had come.
Specifically, the statesmanship era from 1776 to 1836 was followed by an era of politics from 1836 to 1913, which was followed by an era of statesmanship (changing constitutions and overarching societal systems) from 1913 to 1945. Then came another era of politics (increased government spending and regulations by politicians and bureaucrats) from 1945 to 2013.
We are on the verge of another major shift today, and the changes will be drastic.
Instead of the major national dialogue focusing on issues (e.g. immigration, abortion, energy policy, national security, health care, gun control, education policy, etc.), the increasing focus will be on how to change the Constitution.
It has already started, in fact. Less than a year ago, for example, Georgetown professor Louis Seidman wrote an article in the New York Times entitled “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” He argued that the Constitution is outdated, and that it is time to “scrap” it and write something better.
This brought a series of angry rebuttals from the Right, and a number of strong suggestions from the Left, but few seem to realize that this is the beginning of a new era of the American debate.
Several others have entered this growing discussion, like David Brooks, who wrote in the New York Times on December 12, 2013 that the U.S. should alter our system to “Strengthen the Presidency.”
And New York Times bestselling author Mark Levin wrote a series of new amendments that he feels should be added to the Constitution to fix our current system and get America back on track.
Just a couple weeks ago, almost 100 legislators from 32 states met in Mount Vernon, Virginia to discuss the possibility of adding amendments to the constitution through a convention of the states, as authorized by Article 5 of the constitution.
The Next Shift
When Orrin Woodward and I wrote the New York Times bestseller LeaderShift and released it earlier this year, neither of us knew that 2013 would be the year of this major shift — from politics to statesmanship, from issues to changing the whole system.
This is momentous, and our book outlines nine specific changes, in the form of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that would put American prosperity, freedom, strength and power quickly back on line.
I am convinced that LeaderShift is representative of the best of this new trend, this growing debate on how to change our system to get it headed in the right direction once again. And you can read all four of the new commentaries in this emerging debate (Seidman, Levin, Brooks, Woodward and DeMille) and decide for yourself.
Make no mistake: this is THE debate of the coming decade. As a nation, we have concluded that Washington is broken. The American people generally feel that the system is fractured and needs to be fixed, and those who are focused on daily governing will miss out on the real tide ahead: coming changes in our overall system.
Since such changes aren’t usually the focus in elections, many people won’t realize that this is happening. But as I already noted, the debate has already begun.
Issues and Politics
When Orrin and I were interviewed by many journalists about our book, it was a bit of a surprise to us that nearly every interviewer wanted to focus on issues, issues, issues and partisan politics, politics, politics.
That’s been the tone in America for over sixty years, so we probably should have expected it.
But now the tide is shifting. This isn’t something we can afford to get wrong. Change is upon us. President Obama was elected by promising such change. Yet if we make the wrong changes, it can only hurt this great nation.
Change is here, and it is the kind of change that focuses on our Constitution and the very fundamentals of our society and national system.
The debate will grow in the years ahead, the way such changes always do — slowly for a while, and then all at once.
Yet the ideas at the center of this debate, the ideas right now argued by Seidman, Brooks, Levin, Woodward and DeMille, and others who join the discussion, will sway the 21st Century.
I wrote in my book, 1913, that the year 1913 was a pivotal time of change. It looks more and more like its century year 2013 will be even more significant. This is the year we began the shift from politicians, bureaucrats and issues to and major changes to our Constitution and system.
Some will argue that we should change nothing, that the old Constitution is the best. But in reality we haven’t been following the original principles of the Constitution for many decades, and the primacy of the Constitution continues to erode due to the way Washington skirts, reinterprets and at times ignores it.
Whatever you think of our current system, change is imminent. The only question is: How will we change, what precisely will we change?
That is what this debate is all about. A LeaderShift is happening, right now, under our noses. America is changing while its citizens sleep.
What we need is a new generation of Madisons, Adams, and Jeffersons.
We need more men and women who understand how to write constitutions and amendments that create and protect real freedom. If you are one of these people, or should be, it is time to join the debate.
It is time to take action, so we go in the right direction.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.