Do we need to reform our government? That’s an understatement. World renowned geopolitical strategist and 5 times best selling author, Dr. Parag Khanna, shares insights from his latest book, Technocracy in America, for a radical overhaul of the US government system. Dr. Khanna draws upon his personal experiences as a global citizen having traveled and studied dozens of political systems from around the globe. On this episode, Parag and I discuss how our current system has failed us, why technocrats are better served to effect change in an administration, why the office of the Presidency needs checks and balances with an executive oversight committee, his ideas on why the Senate and House needs to be re-configured as an Assembly of Governors, and much much more.
In light of the recent transition of power in the White House, the timing of this conversation could not be more relevant. Regardless of what side of the isle you sit on, we can all agree that its about time we re-think how our government operates to serve the peoples’ needs.
All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.
About Dr. Parag Khanna
Dr. Parag Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveler and best-selling author. His latest book is Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State. A widely cited global intellectual, Dr. Khanna provides regular commentary for international media. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, TIME, Forbes and The Atlantic, among many others, and he has made frequent appearances on CNN, BBC, CNBC, Al Jazeera and the TED stage.
Dr. Khanna lectures frequently at international conferences and gives executive briefings to government leaders and major corporations on global trends and scenarios, systemic risks and technological disruptions, and market entry strategies and economic master planning. He has worked as an advisor to the US National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 program and as a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation. His resume also includes a stint in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as senior geopolitical advisor to United States Special Operations Forces.
Born in India, Dr. Khanna grew up in the United Arab Emirates, New York and Germany. He is an accomplished adventurer who has traveled to every continent, visiting more than 100 countries. Dr. Khanna holds a PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Among his many honors, Dr. Khanna was awarded the 2017 Richard von Weizsaecker Fellowship of the Bosch Foundation, named one of Esquire’s 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century and featured in WIRED magazine’s Smart List. He currently serves as Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
Key Interview Takeaways
A direct technocracy could best cope with the complexity of a connected world. Khanna argues that our current system is overly populist, short-term and narrow-minded. An ideal form of government would combine Switzerland’s direct democracy in which citizens have a say in every issue with Singapore’s technocratic structure of well-trained consultants using voter sentiment and big data to implement long-term planning.
Technocrat and elite are not synonyms. While elites are smart people with a fancy degree, technocrats are smart people who also know how to govern. It’s not enough to be intelligent, a technocrat must also understand how to get things done.
A truly effective executive branch would embrace the concept of a collective presidency. Rather than a single person making policy decisions, a committee of seven would debate domestic, international, economic and military issues. Together, the group would vet ideas and work toward consensus as they inform the president’s decision-making.
Because the senate has become a smaller, more elite version of the house, Khanna proposes a reimagining of the senate as a governor’s assembly. In his vision, each state would elect two governors, one of whom would stay in the state capital while the other went to Washington.
Young people tend to value connectivity as much as nationality. Khanna has hope that because the next generation of leaders share a common vision of sustainability and mobility, a greater spirit of cooperation is in our future.
The world is running out of patience with the United States. Khanna cites the US policy regarding sanctions with Iran to illustrate the way in which our unwillingness to engage has stalled any effort to bring about tangible change. With a volatile new president that many world leaders don’t respect, he predicts the rest of the world will choose to ignore the US and go their own way.
“True knowledge comes from loneliness, reading, introspection and travel.”
Learn More About Dr. Parag Khanna