Strong, visionary, decisive leadership has been missing for so long in America, we don't even know what it looks like anymore.
Arrogance and charisma are not the same as leadership. George W. Bush was as arrogant as they come and Barack Obama is as charismatic as it gets. But both represent terrible ideas, a disdain for democracy, and a complete disregard for the will of the American people.
Here's what I think.
A strong leader doesn't lie to his supporters out of convenience or for his own political gain, or make mincemeat out of the facts because he thinks he personally knows whats best for the country. He respects us and is truthful, even when the truth is worrisome or painful.
A strong leader takes sometimes controversial stands on difficult issues out of conviction. He looks for direction in a set of principles __ those spelled out with clarity and candor when he ran for office __ not poll numbers and focus groups.
A strong leader is not afraid of tarnishing his own image because his ideas or policies might be unpopular. His concern is the greater good of America and the welfare of the American citizenry, not his place in history.
A strong leader defends and supports those in our society who are the weakest and most need of help __ because a free society and true democracy is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable, not how it venerates and toadies up to its privileged and powerful.
A strong leader is not impressed by money and power, only what fulfills the basic tenets of the constitution and the intentions of the nation's founding fathers, and what fosters the greater good for the majority of citizens __ the general welfare.
A strong leader recognizes everyone is equal before the law and makes tough choices in enforcing it.
A strong leader cannot be bought or influenced by the rich and powerful and remains loyal to the majority of Americans who entrust him with the responsibilities of his powerful position.
A strong, visionary, decisive leader offers big solutions to big problems. If the car is broke, he fixes it or replaces it. He doesn't just shine the hubcaps and claim he's doing all he can, or worse, claim that shiny hubcaps will get the car running again in top form.
There are more but what I've outlined constitute a good start in defining leadership.
I personally believe Mr. Obama, and the House and Senate leadership, both Democrat and Republican, fail on all counts. I don't know what other conclusion you could draw after watching the fiascos and tragic blunders of the past twenty years.
BIG problems in America. They are almost incomprehensibly big.
Sometimes they are within the framework of legislative and executive
policy formulation. But we also must acknowledge that sometimes they are
systemic problems, requiring thorough and fundamental revisions of the
way we go about doing things __ BIG solutions.
All the hand-wringing that goes on in the name of shaping public policy, basically a soap opera to keep the masses distracted and uninformed, is cowardly and insulting. This fiscal cliff is a joke. The debate over taxing the rich is simple-minded and tunnel-visioned.
Which points up another example of total lack of leadership. A leader does not let others set the rules of debate, or frame the argument. A true leader brings a fresh point of view, one that is rife with possibilities and potential for positive change. A true leader doesn't let his opponents decide what and how much will be discussed.