Military strategists know the importance of probing defenses – analyzing the enemy’s capabilities and response – then targeting critical vulnerabilities for maximum effectiveness.
The Prussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, in his seminal work “On War” spoke of identifying “Centers of Gravity” – which modern warfighters have doctrinally identified as “any important sources of strength” – values, mental toughness, moral resilience, physical strength, power of will – that if exploited “will do the most significant damage to an adversaries ability to resist.”
These centers of gravity exist in all organizations – including government bureaucracies.
The mandate for leadership is to identify these sources of strength, protect them, continuously improve them, and use these strategic and operational assets to full advantage.
Unfortunately, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic at all levels of government has exposed our greatest vulnerabilities to both the citizens it ostensibly exists to serve – and potential bad actors around the world.
Historically, when threats are identified, government plans and prepares, then provides citizens the best information and recommendations possible – a tempered approach that protects the vulnerable while respecting the rights and livelihoods of the many.
That didn’t happen when coronavirus came calling – and, as a result, we are beginning to see widespread outrage and even greater political polarization. (If that’s possible.)
When you add the ongoing frenzy of media hype and hysteria that continues to focus on the prurient elements – ignoring any hopeful trend in favor of flogging negativity and engaging in the vilest form of fear-mongering in history – it becomes clear why we are experiencing this national nervous breakdown.
Hysteria and misinformation have spread much faster than the virus – and with politicians in the mix – panic has resulted in this whole-of-society response that is destroying our economy, leaving families in financial ruin, and caused many to question how this could have possibly happened here in the “Land of the Free?”
Then, there is the “kick them when their down” syndrome that some media outlets have embraced – the nonstop lecturing and divisive browbeating that was once the exclusive domain of blowhards like me. . .
For instance, I think everyone has had quite enough of The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s corona-cut-and-paste editorials – which recently preached the gospel according to some Treasure Coast hack – insinuating that “Floridians are idiots” and “Floridians are botching this (recovery)” based on some provocative tripe in the UK’s Daily Mail about people returning to restaurants. . .
Quickly followed by a blast from editor Pat Rice which shit on the opinions of citizens who have taken to social media – every man’s soapbox – to voice their views on vote by mail and other virus-related contrivances.
In his Sunday claptrap entitled, “Facebook, and the bizarre vote-by-mail opponents,” he said:
“We also all know that Facebook can be a cesspool where any knucklehead with a misinformed or uneducated political point of view can regurgitate it at the rest of us.”
That’s right, Pat. Make room for the rest of us.
Why should you corner the market on knucklehead, misinformed and uneducated political views?
Oh, he went on to tidy things up a bit, but you get the idea.
Mr. Rice – who long ago lost credibility by exposing his own partisan views and associations – like many in the media and government, feels that his elitist viewpoint is the only one that matters.
Over the past nine weeks or so, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of local governance – and the media that has influenced its clumsy response – elected and appointed officials who were clearly bested by the complexity of the situation, flailing desperately to keep pace with ever-changing state “executive orders” – then enacting public policy on the fly; protocols which had drastic impacts on our lives and changed almost hourly.
While others on the dais of power turned insular, more self-serving, hyper-focused on their need for political exposure in an election year – going so far as exaggerating their dubious connection to White House policymakers (which turned out to be nothing more than cattle call teleconferences) – publishing weird manifestos on social media, mandating weekly “special meetings,” demanding input in the decision-making process during a declared state of emergency and doing everything possible to remain visible and relevant.
In my view, this has not been Volusia County government’s finest hour. . .
So, where do we go from here?
I long ago came to the conclusion that our doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley, doesn’t have the mental capacity for self-reflection, but I sincerely hope that in the quiet hours, when County Manager George Recktenwald ponders his administrations accomplishments and growth areas – he considers what this botched response, and equally shaky “recovery,” is having on the foundational elements of our community – the civic, social and economic mainstays we rely on during times of crisis.
My hope is that Mr. Recktenwald will ask himself the question:
“Is this still about a virus?”
In my view, there is little motivation for state and local government to stop the endless – and wholly unconstitutional – limitations on our movement, ability to peaceably assemble for lawful purposes, worship in accordance with the practices of our faith and engage in the pursuit of our business or profession without government interference – so long as the tsunami of federal funds continues unabated.
Experts tell me that this disjointed response and recovery is essentially a political problem that requires a political solution – and these constitutional insults will result in numerous lawsuits – and the ultimate removal of many overweening politicians who pushed governmental overreach and control over the needs of their suffering constituents at the polls this fall.
I agree with that to a point.
Despite Pat Rice’s condescending horseshit – I encourage everyone to voice your opinion, on social media or elsewhere – scream it from the rooftops – and let our elected and appointed officials in the Ivory Tower of Power know exactly how you feel about their definition of the “new normal” they are hoping against hope we will all embrace without push-back.
Perhaps its time We, The People find our “center of gravity” – the awesome power of the ballot box – and demand a return to that omnipotent democratic principle that mandates all political power is derived from the will of the governed.