Crisis Of Leadership
We seem to be a country that has lost its way. We have no forward leaning agenda that we can all get behind, and instead are faced with a host of gargantuan problems with seemingly no solutions. The reality of Peak Oil has reached D.C. and our Representatives are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do about it. Iraq is a disaster and our Senators are floundering wildly trying to figure out what to do about it. Our unstable economy is in danger of collapse, and our President is sticking his head in the sand, not even bothering to figure out what to do about it. Our current predicament is the result of failed leadership for sure, but the fact that all we have to take its place is marginally better leadership, well, we’ll still be sliding downward, just maybe not as fast.
68% of us agree that we are on the wrong path, that we are worse off than we were five years ago, that we aren’t interested in going any father down this self-destructive road of incurring outrageous debt, preemptively invading sovereign nations, rapidly outsourcing our jobs and selling our children’s future for a little comfort in the here and now. Yet here we sit, in our homes, in our offices, in our neighborhood coffee shops, wondering what in the hell we’re supposed to do about it.
Perhaps we are too lazy, too wealthy, too involved in our own comfortable lives to admit to ourselves that we need to take action. Perhaps we are too distracted, scared or proud to admit that we need someone to lead the way. Whatever the reason, America needs a hero.
We like to think that we are rugged individualists, that we hold the power in this country and that we will take action when action is necessary, but America has always needed courageous leaders to challenge us and lead the way toward progress. At critical times in our history, men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt grabbed the reigns and dragged us, the American people, toward a better future. We have failing leadership that has brought us to the brink, but there doesn’t seem to be a charismatic, thoughtful, truthful, intelligent, innovative person ready to fill the void.
One of the most damaging things the Republicans have done over the last several decades is erode the public’s trust and belief in government. Reagan paved the way with his quip about the nine most frightening words in the English language being, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” This may have served him well in getting public support for his deregulatory rampage, but Republicans have run with the idea and have made weakening government a cornerstone of their agenda. We have seen the real world effects of the Republican’s “bad government” ideology in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in the collapse of Enron, in the massive loss of jobs here at home and in the current windfall profits enjoyed by oil companies, but the lasting damage may prove to be the people’s lost faith that government can work for us.
The irony is that government is the only entity that can solve the big problems we’re facing. Global warming is real and we are contributing to the problem. Peak oil is real and we have not done enough to prepare for the end of the petroleum age. The widening gap, hell the gaping chasm, between the uber-rich and the rest of us, is real and the result of an unfair tax system that can only be remedied by government. Out of control healthcare costs are all too real and capitalism has been unable to effectively manage the problem, and government is the only logical solution.
We have seen what disdain of government yields, more pollution, a decaying education system, out of control energy costs, a stagnant economy, record profits for Corporations while they abandon the American worker in favor of cheap labor abroad. Republicans have managed to make their slogan true. Government IS bad when they run the show.
Again, America needs a hero, someone who believes in government and who cares about solving our problems above securing his or her own political future. I hope that hero is out there, I have to believe that there’s at least one among us. I just hope we’re not too jaded to recognize him or her when the time comes.
Cynicism doesn’t suit us as a nation. When we eject Bush and his Republican cronies out of office, we must consciously reject their cynical view of government as well. It will take decades for the damage to be repaired, but until a great man or woman stands up and grabs the reigns, I’m afraid we’ll just sit here, waiting to be dragged into the future. Sure, we will continue to make small changes in our own lives that will help alleviate the pain of our collective problems, but a national commitment is necessary to make the kind of sweeping changes necessary to secure our future, and that will take leadership. One rugged individual is all it will take. Any takers?