Cartier: The long and short game in American politics (column) |

Cartier: The long and short game in American politics (column)

Whether in foreign policy, the national economy or simply grabbing that snack that isn’t on your diet, the long game (your future) is what you know is necessary, and the short game is your inner child needing instant gratification. It’s not totally your fault, as the digital age addicts us to overwhelming information that is available at a moment’s notice, right in our pocket.

Yet what must be accomplished to achieve our objectives doesn’t always show an initial gain. It is most notable in sports, where we may need to take a step back to position ourselves for the winning goal. Sometimes, it may even take several moves back, during which we may begin to question our overall strategy. Yet few successes in life happen instantly.

Politically, we criticize our legislators for ignoring the future of our country, yet we demand immediate results from every action. Our intellect knows complex issues take time, perhaps even decades, particularly when dealing in areas of national security and the global economy, which include multidimensional and fluctuating variables, yet in a world of instant information, we have developed into a nation with the attention span of a gnat.

According to Quora, “The attention span of a gnat is effectively zero. Gnats have such simple nervous systems that they have no memory and no attention span. They are completely stimulus-driven.” Yep, that’s us.

Elected officials on a two- to six-year cycle are expected to deliver tangible results every election season. That is not a bad expectation, but how do we evaluate an exceptionally implemented program that won’t produce results for years to come and which may, in fact, cost us more now, fiscally or by sacrifice?

Not every solution can be Googled. The areas most essential to our nation’s growth and success require meaningful analysis and thoughtful insight to create innovative and sustainable solutions. The more we continue to diversify and expand our reach, the more challenging the issues become, as one positive result may generate a negative consequence elsewhere. The “What have you done for me lately?” version of accountability, may not be serving us well.

We’ve attempted to generate a more secure world by aligning with others, which theoretically seemed ideal, yet it produced more global threats than before. Foes have become friends and friends have become foes. In addition, we have security vulnerabilities that are difficult to ascertain and challenging to protect in the digital age.

The world is changing, and we must solidify our strength to create a viable future. That may mean we focus on ourselves so that we can re-engage on a broader scale afterward. “America first” is not such a bad thing. It’s like when airlines say, “In an emergency, place the mask on your face first, before helping others.” If you are not alive and strong, then you will be of no use to anyone else.

America’s desire to be a cooperative team player on the global stage required us to appear less than what we truly were, so as not to intimidate our international teammates. That was a mistake that has cost us dearly on multiple fronts. Correction requires a huge swing in the opposite direction, which makes us uneasy but is essential to regaining a position of strength, so that we can truly be of aid to our allies. In the process of this correction, we must come together, setting aside party differences. We all want essentially the same thing, but our approaches are vastly different. We had 8-years of trying it one way, which was not successful; we are now attempting a different strategy. Half the people hated the past approach and an equal number hate it currently, yet the goal is the same: to maintain a strong country with a sustainable future.

We are a nation of diversity and love discourse because it causes us to expand our thoughts and generate stronger ideas. However, we have elevated political criticism to an art form, with video and sensational narratives that are the envy of Hollywood and that “go viral” the more outrageous the content.

While it’s entertaining and appeals to our gnat-like concentration, it is severely damaging to our nation’s well being. It is no longer a discussion of ideas but a popularity contest for the most website “hits.” This is no way to govern a civilized society.

It is important that we unite on the ultimate common goal of achieving and maintaining an America that our ancestors dreamed of and sacrificed for us.

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit She may be contacted at

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