Ever heard of Laurie S. Fulton? Didn’t think so. She’s America’s ambassador to Denmark and a political appointee. And thus far, in my humble opinion, a very mediocre one, because despite living in a globalized world, so many brilliant Danish ideas still remain on the other side of the Atlantic because this diplomat has failed to spread them to America (including, but not limited to, the brilliance of the television series Forbrydelsen).
As Fulton’s Wikipedia page states, “Her great-grandfather served in the Danish parliament from 1918 until 1940. Through the years, she has visited her relatives who reside in Denmark to directly absorb their culture. Her knowledge of Danish history and society, coupled with her years of professional experience and success, provide her an exceptional background for the position of United States Ambassador to Denmark.”
Is America a land of peerage? Nope! Why should an American serve as ambassador simply because his/her family has ancestral ties to a nation? And why are we sending members of the 1% to represent us abroad?
In our “democracy,” ambassadors should be selected based on merit. Perhaps younger, more forward-thinking people, who are adept at using the media, and skilled at building an image abroad of America as a land of progress, opportunity, and innovation would be better picks.
What Fulton’s biography doesn’t state: That she “bundled” $100,000 in donations for President Obama to secure her job. Ambassador Fulton has lived her whole adult life inside the Washington, D.C., beltway (her trips to visit relatives in Denmark not withstanding), and thus she knows very little about how the rest of the world lives and works.
I, on the other hand, lived in Denmark as an adult and earned a master’s degree there, and understand Danish culture from the perspectives of people who don’t take chauffeured cars everywhere they travel.
I’m not trying to pick on Ambassador Fulton, because there are certainly worse bundlers-turned ambassadors, like Cynthia Stroum, but Fulton’s life as a Washington insider makes her a horrible ambassador. America should be choosing its non-career civil servant ambassadors from the worlds of technology, academia, media, and non-profits. Candidates for ambassadorships should be people with a vast exposure to foreign cultures, ideally the ones where they will be serving — not just those who worked at D.C. law firms and then threw large wads of cash at political candidates.
While Obama has successfully limited some lobbying efforts and increased transparency within the Executive branch, both he and George W. Bush have both made their former roommates ambassadors to Belize. This cheapens our relations with that country, and quite frankly, should be insulting to Belizeans. This kind of kickback process is not American.
Let’s get back to Denmark, a country of just 5.5 million inhabitants that has revolutionized wind energy, green building and bicycle transportation, while building up a disproportionately overpowering artistic, cinematic, and creative industries. Ambassador Fulton has done nothing to convey the achievements of the Danish way of thinking and way of life to America, or to attempt to implement positive Danish achievements in America.
Consider this the start of my grassroots campaign to become America’s next ambassador to Denmark, because regardless of whether Obama or Mitt Romney are resident in the White House in 2013, I will serve as an excellent liaison to spread American ideas, interests, and beliefs to Denmark while also encouraging strong American collaborations with Danish scholars, thinkers, politicians, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, artists and more.
I just hope that my efforts go farther than those of Carl Malamud, whose valiant and legitimate campaign to become Public Printer of the United States has thus far been rebuffed by the Washington insiders who will never understand that the future is already here.