If leadership were as fungible as money, as a nation we'd be dead broke. Now, I realize that such a statement can be applied to and interpreted as relating to many different aspects of society. So, in the interest of brevity, let me cut to the chase.
Our leaders have delivered so little integrity; so little credibility and so little real leadership that we probably wouldn't recognize any of these character traits if we stood right in front of them. A few illustrative examples:
- The Fiscal Cliff -- Whatever their politics, most Americans would agree that this entire debacle stems from a massive failure of political leadership and an unwillingness to accept accountability for any of the nation's woes. I make no distinction between Democrat or Republican, Congressional legislators or Executive Branch bureaucrats -- no one in Washington, it seems, understands the concepts of credibility or integrity. If they did, they would not have loaded up the Fiscal Cliff legislation with several hundred million dollars of tax breaks and cozy deals. Who are these people?!
- Superstorm Sandy Relief -- It seems unlikely that previous
Congresses would have been given the latitude to wait so long before acting to provide aid and comfort to those whose lives were swept away. Have our
expectations finally come into alignment with the realities of our available
- Rubber Stamp Legislators -- It was curious that within moments
of the swearing in of newly elected pols they were called to vote on the Fiscal Cliff deal. I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that I doubt
very many of the existing members of Congress, let alone the new ones still
trying to find their office in the Capitol Building, even read the bill. The only word that comes to mind is "pathetic".
Naturally, building this list could amount to full time employment, but I think you get the point. I've reached a position where I don't even to bother to listen to our leaders any longer. After all, if I want to hear fantasy and "feel good" dialogue, I'll go to our local library for Story Time (is Miss Mott still kickin'?).
Sadly, even the top leadership of our military have veered off the course of integrity -- but not accountability. Hard lessons for the David Petraeus' and Stanley McChrystals of the world to learn. Too bad no one else in leadership gets the same instruction.
We are fully accountable for this mess. You and I together. Regardless of the influences of money and favoritism and corruption, in the end we still cast the votes that send these less than honorable men and women to Congress. This republic exploded from the chains of distant monarchy to become the most amazing experiment in freedom and opportunity man has ever witnessed. I don't
want to think that we will stand by blissfully ignorant of the blacksmiths
in our own government who work every day to forge new links in those chains.
Call me a pessimist, but being inspired by Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece "Lincoln", I've searched for but can't find anyone in leadership today who exemplifies the courage shown by Mr. Lincoln or, for that matter, by John Adams and his colleagues some 90 odd years earlier.
In the end we must accept that we usually get the government we deserve. So let's be accountable to each other and teach our current and future leaders that it is supposed to be a privilege to represent us in government, not a lifelong career choice.