By Dan DiMicco
“In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
You may well ask is this inevitable? The answer depends….it depends on us. It does not have to but the odds are stacked against us. Ouch, did I just say that? Unfortunately I did!
While history is full of such failures, on a country and civilization level, there are also successes in human history that we can draw from, albeit not necessarily on the scale of Countries. However, these successes almost always involve an extended period of ‘suffering’, before there is a rebirth. A movement back to the basics that got us to the top. It is not a complete move back to the ‘way it was’ but it is an absolute must that it is substantial.
In a sense it is like a football dynasty! OK, I know it’s not on the level of a Country’s rebirth but the analogy is easier to understand. Throughout the history of teams that have gone from champions to ‘also-rans’ and back again the factors that result in a continual rebirth over the years are simple to understand, not easy to do. It involves strong and enlightened Leadership in the front office and coaching; a strong move back to the basics of blocking and tackling, with a recognition that a new approach is necessary that may be heavily influenced by technology and strategic evolution. You can never go back to exactly the ‘way it was’, but the fundamental basics are the basics and must be adhered to.
This is where the Leadership must be game-changing! It is a leadership that recognizes the foundations and core principles of our past success and gets Americans to take ownership of those principles. It is a leadership that knows and acts on that knowledge, a knowledge that no team, no civilization, no country can succeed unless they can bring people together as one, in spite of their differences to focus on a common set of goals that supersede our differences. It’s a leadership that creates that focus and effectively communicates it so that issues that would blur that focus are not allowed to.
We need such leadership and we need it now. We as a nation must come together around such leadership when it shows itself. We must pray, or whatever works for you, that when this unifying leadership shows up that we recognize and that it is a force for positive rebirth. History is full of nations that came together over destructive leadership. When it comes we will see it for its strength of purpose; its return to the guiding principles that made our nation great, not perfect; a unifying not divisive force; a leadership that has a strong experience and a track record of successes and team building. Today we have either, no leadership, the wrong leadership, divisive leadership, failed leadership, of little or no real experience, or all of the above!
Keep your eyes open because that leadership is out there and coming. It will be our job to recognize it, support it, and get us back on track as the world’s best chance as that “shining city on the hill”.
Dan DiMicco is Chairman, President, and CEO of Nucor Corporation, the world’s largest recycler and the largest U.S. steel producer. He has emerged as a national leader in the movement to create a comprehensive agenda to restore strength and growth to American manufacturing. He has spearheaded a series of town hall meetings across the county to broaden awareness and spur political action to implement reform to international trade and domestic areas such as the American regulatory, legal, and health care systems. DiMicco continues to be a forceful advocate for returning manufacturing industries to a position of prominence in the American economic system.