To Be Centrist Is NOT To Be Neutral
From Leaders Expedition (LEx)
"We need to call it now - it is an imperative that centrists prevail globally and systemically - within the next 10 years. ...the failure to do so will be an existential failure for humanity, because to fail is to let the extremists define us - where we live, and where we work."
As we complete the migration of the Leaders Expedition (LEx) membership to the new LEx HUB(www.leadersx.org), and prepare for a series of fundraising and membership development campaigns in the Fall, it has become clear that an important calibration of the LEx narrative needs to be made.
For any thoughtful watcher, we have been balancing atop our Tenets, making the case that we were pursuing a politically secular, agnostic approach "inspired by moderation and the rejection of extremes" (number 8 of our Core Values) and were thus building our community to this noble purpose. However, it's always been more than a little problematic in practice.
Our messaging, admittedly mixed, has tended to inspire the intellect, but has not roiled the blood. This has been - on my part at least - deliberate. In a world that appears to be slipping towards nativism and the rejection of evidence-based-anything and actual expertise - and the anarchic revolutions that could result - there is more than enough roiled blood already. Calmer heads MUST prevail, and I have always seen LEx as a credible means to purposefully provide them.
But I don't think we can ignore the energy around us any longer. I think that we need to do a better job of leveraging the positive - and negative - energy whipped up by the evident erosion of liberal democracy (more illusory than real) and help both existing members and more importantly new ones, understand where we fit in to their world. Our Tenets do speak loudly, but you need to listen closely to what they speak for, and what they speak against.
LEx was developed as a model to Connect, Empower and Mobilize accomplished persons everywhere who by definition are centrists, moderates or independent - not ideologues. We are values-driven pragmatists who, in the rejection of extremes, seek to build the global community that will Transform the way leaders lead in the towns and cities where we live and in the sectors within which we work. We believe that the failure to do so will be an existential failure for humanity, because to fail is to let the extremists define us - where we live, and where we work.
In 2018 a landmark study was prepared in the US by the international non-profit group More in Common with results that I believe resonate globally. Entitled Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape, the research is one of the largest studies into US polarization and is based on interviews with 8,000 respondents, conducted by YouGov. It has a margin of error of +/- 1%. The conclusion is in many ways not surprising, nor is it ambiguous. American politics is dominated by 14% of white, affluent, well-educated extremist voters (split more or less equally between the left and the right) who despise each other, 19% who consider themselves 'traditional' Conservatives, and 67% who constitute the 'exhausted majority' of Traditional Liberals, Passive Liberals, Politically Disengaged and Moderates. This does not include the 12% of Republicans who have indicated that they do not support their party's incumbent (according to the most recent Gallup Poll).
In almost every country, those who consider themselves as not ideologically driven are the majority, often by a wide margin. And yet increasingly, the narratives defining our societies are being seized by extremists that are united by a common derision of a value system such as ours. They are both blinded by deeply held 'answers' that any genuine level of open-minded curiosity and diligence would instantly abandon.
With the inevitability of a global recession threatening to exacerbate already stressed social fissures, how humanity deals with the many existential challenges from climate change to income inequality to nuclear proliferation is increasingly in doubt. So we need to call it now - it is an imperative that centrists prevail globally and systemically - within the next 10 years. And the only group that I know of that has invested 20,000 hours of volunteer time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the design of a purposeful effort to empower and mobilize the exhausted majority to produce the new leadership cohort capable of driving this change is LEx.
The world needs LEx. YOU need LEx - that is if you are one of the those who are tired of having no home for your voice, or of having your voice drowned out by those on either side who seek to drown the other out, rather than listen to you. To be a centrist does NOT mean one is neutral, it means that solutions are to found from across what today is the 'political' spectrum. If we are at all successful in having the impact we desire, it means that 10 years from now, solutions based on the LEx Tenets will be helping to frame narratives in classrooms, police precincts, boardrooms, laboratories and legislatures (to name a few) - with members of many political colours represented, all sharing a commitment to the LEx Tenets.
The reason I helped found LEx was because I am terrified by the nihilistic mediocrity of democratically-elected autocrats around the world (collectively the symptoms, not the cause of the malignancy), and the malicious undoing of centuries of incredibly hard-fought gains in redefining what it means to be a human. This is a VERY dangerous process. I believe that to prevail, we much first focus on the house-keeping matters of building a new and great community - of creating the peer-support systems necessary to ensure that our members are not only elevated in their lifepursuits, but that they thrive as they do so. Only then do we charge this community with devising the millions of solutions necessary to change the way leaders lead.
That's what Leaders Expedition is. www.leadersx.org