By Sal Bommarito
A disturbing phenomenon is occurring in the United States. The country is experiencing a dearth of leadership at all levels of government. Self-aggrandizement and partisanship has replaced a desire to improve the lives of Americans.
To paraphrase an old expression, you’ll know a leader when you see him or her. You know a person is special because he is able to organize things and get stuff done in the midst of confusion, hysteria, terror or gloom. Leaders save us from evil, enemies and Mother Nature.
American history is rife with examples of great leaders. They are men and women who accomplished much under adverse conditions. They won wars, saved millions in peril and led reconstruction after political or natural disasters. Very few of us will ever have an opportunity to lead a nation or even a large business, but the best among us must be prepared to assume responsibility if the need arises. And so, we should look back to identify characteristics that are affiliated with our great leaders.
Unfortunately, leadership in the greatest country in the world in the 21st Century has been elusive. Our nation has had more than its share of ordeals to inspire greatness, but it’s difficult to name many individuals who successfully met the challenges.
There would be little agreement in any effort to name current leaders that inspire us. Mustering a consensus on any issue is nearly impossible in these times. But, who are the candidates that would be nominated as great leaders? I’d bet President Barack Obama would be on many lists.
Obama’s supporters would point out that he killed Osama bin Laden. Actually, the president watched the assassination of the Al Qaeda terrorist on closed circuit TV in the basement of the White House. And, it should be noted that George W. Bush was responsible for the process that ultimately led to the death of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks long before Obama was on the scene.
Obama supporters would indicate that he was responsible for providing health care to millions of Americans who could not afford it. The president’s impetuous and partisan style along with an inadequate grasp of the issues (and poor drafting of documents) from the outset resulted in a significant legal challenge, which could bring down the program a few months from now. Moreover, many of the newly insured are those who signed up with Medicaid, which was expanded to include more people at no cost. Obamacare is nothing more than a new entitlement whose objectives could have been accomplished with existing programs and without unnecessary fanfare and monumental costs.
Obama friends would say he is a “wartime president,” even though he won election in part based upon his promises to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the rapid drawdown of troops was at least partially responsible for the evolution of ISIS. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is as strong as ever. In both countries, Al Qaeda has survived in one form or another. Remember, Obama said the insurgents were destroyed.
Globally, the reputation of the U.S. has diminished under Obama’s leadership, much to the chagrin of his supporters. Even our closest ally, Israel, has been disappointed and disillusioned by inconsistent and indecisive diplomacy. America is no longer a reliable ally in the eyes of many.
The most distressful situation is the war against ISIS in which the president has ceded leadership to Iran. For months, his response to the threat of ISIS has been tepid, at best. By not engaging the murders adequately, he is responsible for allowing the terrorist phenomenon to blossom.
African Americans and Millennials were a principal source of support for Obama in both of his elections. The plight of these two groups during the president’s tenure has been totally unsatisfying and bleak. More people in these groups are on welfare and without jobs than ever. Young people continue to find it difficult to obtain positions that are commensurate with their education, and their student debt is at the highest level ever.
Throughout history, the battles between the majority and minority in government have been epic, but they are dwarfed by the current situation in Washington. From the minute he was elected president, Obama chose to disenfranchise conservatives. He set the stage for dramatic and often unnecessary obstructionism from his opponents. The fact is that Republicans have been counter-punching for six years.
Further, Obama’s tact has been to demonize the most successful in the country by encouraging class warfare. His brand of populism has in effect greatly expanded the group that is totally dependent upon the state. Instead of stressing prosperity where all boats rise, the president has been on a crusade to take from the rich and give to the poor, forever. So now, America must contend with ISIS and terrorists, while at home the majority and the minority fight for political power, cops and blacks do battle in the streets of Ferguson and rich and poor are engaged in a heated debate about income redistribution.
I continue to look towards Washington hoping that a leader will emerge from the rubble of the past six years. Maybe in 2016, America will elect a competent leader who can guide us through the negativity in the country and the world. What I hope more than anything else is that the next president is more engaging than the current one.