Perhaps I am biased. I am, after all, a proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where we oddly cheer on the ferocious Tartans (translation: plaid woolen fabric) and undergraduates can major in bagpiping. Our alma mater speaks of "spangled wildernesses," and we revel in industrious Andrew Carnegie's heart being "in the work." His success story is a uniquely American one, and many U.S. cities benefit from his philanthropy to this day. Carnegie's libraries began where he felt a personal connection – places such as Braddock and Allegheny, Pa. — and then proliferated as women's clubs laid the groundwork for them further afield.

I probably am biased. I named my company Islay after the Inner Hebrides island. While small and remote, Islay has been a cultural and economic driver of the British economy, offering stunning landscapes and peaty Scotch whiskies like Bowmore and Laphraoig. I firmly believe Sean Connery remains the best James Bond, and a deep-fried Mars bar shared among friends is what heaven, if there is one, tastes like. With students, I am quick to extol Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE's virtues, not for his Wealth of Nations but for his lesser-known Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which he speaks to the importance of sympathy — or more accurately, empathy — for our ability to imagine others' feelings and experiences, and ultimately to engage in communities and markets.

In recent days, we have heard a great deal regarding the economic or political implications of Scottish independence, should the U.K. wish to continue as an international player. One must not diminish the warnings of dire economic consequences, or uncertainties regarding currency, EU membership, or NATO contributions in the form of nuclear submarines. Indeed, these are all critical considerations one very much hopes Thursday's voters incorporate into the decision-making calculus. In the midst of a fragile economic recovery and at a time when world leaders are focused on building solidarity to address challenges posed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Russian aggressions, disunity is being equated with weakness. Does a "yes" vote offer ammunition to China's Uighur and Tibetans, Basque or Catalan separatists in Spain, Italy's South Tyrol and Veneto regions, or even our own Texas and Hawaii?


While many of us have been riveted to commentary on macroeconomic destabilization and geopolitical balkanization, there is a self-interested takeaway for Americans as our own midterm election season ramps up: Good policy requires good politics. Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has been persistent in his pursuit of an independent Scotland. In his antagonism of Westminster, he offers rousing bait for Scots interested in "controlling their own future," but he has prosecuted a less convincing case on the pragmatic economic details. Nonetheless, U.K. leaders are only descending on Scotland at the 11th hour. With polls indicating Thursday's referendum too close to call, will it be too little, too late by Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband? In 2008, Marvel Comics memorably morphed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown into a spandex-clad superhero. Several years on, can the proud Scotsman save the U.K.'s skin again?

While we sit on the edge of our seats awaiting the outcome of Scotland's referendum, it is in our best interests to take notes. Rather than ask why good politics has become a scarce resource, it may be more productive to take a page from earlier playbooks to combat the 11th-hour politics of fear.

In denouncing the American South's secession efforts, President Abraham Lincoln appealed to "the better angels of our nature" to rally the country around a united America. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt called Americans to pitch in, investing in war bonds and working in factories, while reminding those faced with both local hardship and global uncertainties that "the only thing to fear is fear itself." As evidenced during the lead-up to the second Iraq War, the use of fear is intensely effective in the short run, but just as the "angels' share" evaporates when whisky ages, fear-induced goodwill quickly goes poof.

Americans pride ourselves on the ability to engage in robust debate in our democratic process, and it is similarly energizing to see so many Scottish voters getting involved. Thursday's "no" votes are more predictable, coming from more reliable, often older voters. Where Scotland's future will be decided and where current power lies is with the newer voter: younger, lower-income, and in many cases, hitherto disaffected by "politics as usual." With record numbers of Americans identifying neither as Republican nor Democrat, but as independents, it is worth better understanding the motivations and concerns of millions of our own swing-vote citizens. In states as different as New Jersey and Alaska, unaffiliated voter registrations are outpacing the established political parties.

In an increasingly diverse America, we must have decision-makers who reflect our own richness. While we are making gains, can one blame a first-time female or minority voter who feels disenfranchised by the process and its machination? We need more people stepping up to offer fresh ideas and serve our country — to take part in creating a better union, rather than opting out.

Fortunately for us, we Americans like being where the action is, be that the hottest new earworm or in line for a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or Apple iPhone 6. Our fear-of-missing-out, or "FOMO" culture, indicates a thirst for belonging. It is no wonder fans are so disappointed by the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings this week, when we take pride in our hometown teams. The NFL is masterful at cultivating its Sunday megachurch, but we are quickly disappointed and disillusioned by bad behavior from our running backs, rock stars, politicians or pastors.

The very day Scots go to the polls to decide their future, it should not be overlooked that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew's will vote on including women as members after 260 years of not. Just as we are watching to see who feels a sense of belonging Thursday, during our own era of political divisiveness, it should appeal to our own best natures to build our rich debates and informed decisions on a culture of inclusion as we look toward November.

While at Carnegie Mellon, I discovered a rich, international community I found exciting for its inclusive diversity, embracing the quirkiest of artists and the nerdiest of computer scientists. After some thought, I think it is okay if I am biased toward the lessons learned in America's most Scottish of universities. Today its alumni "clans" gather to witness alumnus Billy Porter's feats of athletic musicality in Broadway's "Kinkyboots," just as they host "globally plaid" beach reunions in Honolulu. As much as we Americans seek to be individuals, if we are honest, we relish a feeling of belonging while contributing to something larger than the sum of our parts.

Babcock-Lumish, president of Islay Consulting, previously served as the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute's founding director of public policy and an economics professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point.