Vision, mission, goals, objectives, strategy, tactics; have you ever been confused by these terms?  Well, if you have, you’re certainly not alone.  Few people outside of management consultants are truly clear about what they mean, and even then, we find disagreement.  As a result, people, especially politicians tend to use these terms interchangeably, which frequently leads to confused government.

Government exists for many reasons, but its most important function is to provide order in the land; and a constitutional democracy such as ours exists to give voice to the people while protecting their basic human rights. Meanwhile the most effective leaders are those who are able to clearly articulate what he or she wants to achieve & why they want to achieve it.  They paint a picture describing their Vision in clear understandable terms, because Vision is the leader’s North Star, and an unambiguous Vision provides a clear understanding of where the leader wants to take the nation.

The Mission differs from the Vision inasmuch as it explains what needs to be done in order to reach the Vision.  Goals and Objectives take things down to a greater level of detail in setting the path towards the Vision.  Goals are clear statements of what needs to be accomplished and Objectives take the level of detail down even further and provide much more specific, quantifiable and time-sensitive measurment that tells us our progress.  Which brings us to Tactics, the day-to-day activities a government engages in to ensure they are in line with the leader’s Vision.

There’s an apocryphal story about an elderly priest who was observing the construction site in his parish.   The priest walked up to one of the laborers and asked what he was doing.  The laborer replied testily, “What do you think I’m doing; I’m laying bricks.”  The priest then approached a second laborer and asked the same question.  The second laborer replied, “I’m building a cathedral.”  So, allow me ask, while both men were engaged in identical activities, which man had a “vision” and which was just laying bricks?

During the Apollo moon program NASA had thousands of employees working on various aspects of the program, from rocket scientists to janitors sweeping floors.  And perhaps never before in American history were people so focused on a single task.  Prior to the moon launch in July 1969, a common response from a NASA employee who when asked what he or she was doing wasn’t, I’m working on the heat shield or on the avionics in the capsule, rather the common refrain was, “We’re going to put a man on the moon.”

Like the man who was “building a cathedral” the NASA employees shared a Vision; a vision that told them not just what they were doing but that their activities were important, that they had value and were leading up to something significant.

Recently Bobbi and I had a contractor working on our home, and during a lull in the activities I asked one of the laborers about one aspect of the job.   He replied, “I don’t know, you’ve got to ask the boss.”  Without going into the detail, this employee knew one thing, his specific job and could not answer questions about the project as a whole.  As a result, a second contractor working on another aspect of the project wasn’t able to begin his work and the entire job was delayed. The first young man lacked a vision of what the completed project was to look like.

Similarly, when Barack Obama campaigned on “Hope & Change”, while the catchphrase sounded good and likely helped propel Obama into the presidency, have you ever heard anyone explain what “Hope & Change” actually meant?  Now compare the foreign policy achievements of Donald Trump to President Obama.  Before Trump we had NAFTA, now we have the USMCA; the Obama administration told us it would take ten years to destroy ISIS, Trump did it in three.  The Obama administration gave Iran billions, then they humiliated our sailors in the front of the whole world.  Trump placed sanctions on them, and no more sailors have been captured.  Pre-Trump NATO members failed to meet their financial commitments; post Trump, NATO nations have begun to meet their pledges.

I’m not going to beat a dead horse with examples, of which there are many.  But I think it’s worth exploring that while “Hope & Change” had a nice ring to it, the “Make America Great Again” Vision followed by its “America First” policy made clear to everyone in the administration what they were to focus on.

Which brings us to the Biden administration.  Can anyone tell me what Joe Biden’s vision for America is?  What is his mission and what are the administration’s specific goals and how does it intend to achieve them?  And did 82,000,000 people really vote for him without knowing the answers to those questions?