The role of civic engagement in American life is greater than simply voting in elections. We must be active participants in our communities. And the same can be said for your country—we have to be actively engaged on the global stage.
As a veteran and a business owner in Tucson, Arizona, with international experience in both realms, I have seen firsthand the need for—and the benefit from—America’s leadership in the world. We cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand, and we need to use all our tools of national power—development and diplomacy alongside defense—to keep our nation safe and our economy growing.
I learned about the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and its mission less than four months ago by attending their annual conference, and for me, it was like seeing a good movie. I had to tell my friends. It is for this reason that I chose to lead and co-host Arizona’s kickoff breakfast for USGLC last week.
After three months of phone calls and emails, we filled the room with business leaders, state and local political officials, internationally-focused non-profit organizations, and veterans in my community that I thought might share similar values. I did not know many of these people or organizations, but they really stepped up to the plate in helping to promote the event, demonstrating the interest people in Arizona have in American engagement in the world.
We had a great keynote speaker in Lt. General Norman Seip who told us “whether you’re wearing a military uniform or a business suit, the need for smart power is clear,” and his message was amplified when he wrote an op-ed in my local paper.
For most, this was the first time they had ever been in a position to learn about foreign policy or the International Affairs Budget, and it didn’t include political pundits screaming at each other. This was also the first time many felt they actually had a voice and/or the power to influence affairs on a global stage.
Americans are hungry to let their voices be heard on what is happening in the world, and my hope is that our Members of Congress know that a smart power approach to foreign policy is in the best interests of our state and our nation.