New Ideas and Diversity

One reason why innovative problem solving and action on our nation’s most pressing problems has moved from the Federal government to local governments is because of the incredible diversity of our nation. Each state has its own unique flavor of any given national problem, making a one-size-fits-all approach to national politics incredibly challenging. Within every state we have a variety of cities and regions. Some areas are densely packed and populated, some areas are incredibly rural, some areas have access to natural resources that help with trade and politics, and some areas have incredible universities that attract global talent for education and possible careers.


Managing the diversity of our nation, our states, and the cities and regions that power our country is crucial in a new age of globalization. In The New Localism, Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak write, “New Localism is the locus of problem solving that must by necessity be open to new ideas and a diversity of constituencies.”


We have diverse populations across our diverse landscape. Not just the issues that matter most to people, but the acceptable approaches to those problems will also vary across individuals and regions. When we start building our solutions at the local level to match our diverse population, we have to be open to new possibilities that align with that diversity. We must find ways to be inclusive if we are going to manage diversity well, and that will necessitate taking a fresh look at problems we have seen in the past.


By incorporating our diverse perspectives, and understanding that seeing the problem and the solution as they have always existed will lead to a shortcoming, we can find the new solutions required by New Localism. Standard approaches will break down because they won’t be able to account for diverse views and beliefs, and they will ultimately leave people out. That will cause friction which will ultimately lead to breakdowns in policies and programs. Incorporating local people who understand local conditions is key to developing new programs, new policies, and new approaches to governance to help our cities, metropolitan regions, states, and ultimately our nation thrive in the future.

Ignoring Other People’s Problems

Another section of James Comey’s speech shared in Cory Booker’s United stood out to me. Former FBI Director Comey spoke about racial tensions and the state of race relations in our country. He acknowledged the difficulty that many people have in accepting that there are racial challenges in our society today, and he was critical of the way people pushed the problem away from themselves. Most white people in our country today seem to discredit race problems, and often they don’t see a race problem as their own problem, and chose instead to ignore the problem all together.

Comey writes, “As a society, we can choose to live our everyday lives, raising our families and going to work, hoping that someone, somewhere, will do something to ease the tension—to smooth over the conflict. We can roll up our car windows, turn up the radio and drive around these problems, or we can choose to have an open and honest discussion about what our relationship is today—what it should be, what it could be, and what it needs to be—if we took more time to better understand one another.”

What Comey explains is that we prefer to drive past racial conflicts and problems, doing our best to ensure we never notice the inequality that has grown within our society. We ignore the problem and pretend that it does not effect us. Ultimately, this pushes us to a place where we live in our own bubble, reflecting our thoughts, beliefs, and views onto the world around us. We begin to assume that everyone has the same experience that we do, that everyone thinks the way we do, and that everyone has the same problems and goals. When this happens, we fail to see the challenges that other people face, and we fail to see the dangers of our nations current racial problems.

In a wold where we ignore the problems of others and focus only inwardly on what we want and what problems we have, we fail to see how our lives and actions impact our larger society. Comey’s quote hits directly at this problem. In our society we live complacently in our homes watching television shows that portray the life we want to live and show us what we want to see. We lose touch with the experiences of others and we may know there are problems in the world, but we don’t see how it is our responsibility to tackle those problems. We do not seriously understand the problems, and we don’t understand the people who face such challenges. Rather than try to better understand our world, we speed past people, problems, and inequity as we commute through life, and then we blame individuals for ending up in their situation, without ever offering a hand or any assistance.