Monday, February 28, 2011

“Will Our Leaders Lead?” ~ by Dr. James Vandermark

Your coverage of the battle of balancing the budget has been informative. Clearly, the issue we face is not only balancing the budget (living within one’s means) but also reducing our national debt! I concur that the public structure has far too long spent money they could ill afford to spend (due to the simple process: spend less than one takes in). Such spending shows an unhealthy political pattern of ineptness when it comes to spending. With such pattern comes a lack of trust in areas of fiduciary responsibility. In my opinion, this is one reason for the lack of political involvement (voting polls) and support by citizens. So, I ask, ‘will our leaders lead?’

Regrettably, our penchant to vote in those who mishandle the finances through whimsical spending without a realistic look at the bottom line, and if not altered, will, I fear, irrevocably lead to a financial despair that even the recession did not face. Sadly, it appears to me that even our current administration under our current president seems lackadaisical about the economy. Again, I implore, ‘will our leaders lead?’

Unfortunately, in view of the pending economic crisis on the back of overspending, we as a country and its constituent parts have come to unavoidable crossroads of forced accountability, and no one will enjoy it but everyone must endure it. Many have endured it. Many have lost their jobs. Factories have all but closed. The economy, contrary to the statements coming from political leadership is not rebounding for those of us living in its trenches. Again, I ask of our leaders, ‘will you lead?’

Now, it is at the threshold of the public sector. The ravaging economy hammers against the door. Leadership is facing the continued realization more is needed to avert the looming economic crisis. The leadership entertaining the cutting out of collective bargaining is certainly an emotional one. A sacrifice is being asked of those so involved as a part of averting the crisis. Alongside this, programs are considered being slashed, if not cut in the budgets (of course, I would question the validity of what is considered essential and non-essential programming. It seems the determination is not based on the purpose of government but on the cries of groups). Still, I cry out, ‘will our leaders lead, too?’

Will our leaders lead? I have heard much rhetoric given to this economic woe. I have read of the budgetary cuts that are being suggested to assuage the crisis. Much to my chagrin, I have seen political tactics attempted to avoid making hard decisions. This is embarrassing. When we need our leaders the most, they leave. Leaders lead, not run.

Will our leaders lead? Many have lost jobs. Various programs may be eliminated. Countless folks may lose some once held benefits. Nevertheless, not number among these is our political leaders. Our political leaders stand apart, untouched by the economic woes.

Will our leaders lead? Our leaders speak as if they understand the incredible painful tow it has had. How can they fully comprehend if they have not suffered a loss of job, the loss of a place to house their family, and the loss of caring for their loved ones? Too much time has passed for those of us who have endured it so for mere rhetoric to sooth us.

Will our leaders lead? Our leadership speaks as if they understand the sacrifice they ask of the American citizen. How can they fully comprehend the sacrifice of working for less, much less than before, struggling to live daily when they do not so live? Our leadership speaks as if they understand the sacrifice they are asking of the public servants to give up ‘collective bargaining’ but do they really. Do they fully understand how this process came about? How can they understand it when they can vote on their own salaries and benefits?

Will our leaders lead? Time for mere political rhetoric is gone. Action is warranted. I call upon our political leaders at all levels to join us. I call upon our political leaders to lead by returning to being servants for the common good of the United States rather than being a politician. I call upon our political leaders to lead by example of what they see and what they ask of us.

Will our leaders lead? Will our political leaders, from the president down to the states and cities, lead not only by words of compassion, not only by budgetary decisions, but also by a personal decision to take personal cuts in their salaries and pensions? Furthermore, will you do whatever is necessary to reduce your staff or reduce its pay in order to reduce the budget, and thereby promoting a healthier economy? Will you do everything within your power to curtail spending within your sphere of influence in order to reduce the debt, and thereby fueling a healthy economy? Is this not what our political leaders are asking of the public sector regarding collective bargaining? Would this not give substantive meaning to the words of compassion spoken to those of us eking out a living in these poor economic trenches?

Will you, our political leaders join us? Will you make a similar sacrifice, as your constituents have, and take a substantial reduction in salary and pensions to reduce and avert the economic crisis? Will you commit to it publically? Will you commit to it for as long as it takes to realign the economy?

Will our leaders lead? Leaders who are willing to join in the throes of sacrifice warrant the admiration of its people. Thus far, I have not seen any leader who is willing to walk among us, willing to sacrifice alongside of us in order for us to climb out of this economic quagmire. I do not ask that you take such measures that you cannot place a meal on your table, cannot keep the heat on, or wonder how you will care for your family like many of us. However, I implore you…

President Obama,
Vice President Biden,
Related cabinet and czars, support staff,
Governors and staff,
House of Representatives,
and all other political support etc.

to demonstrate your compassionate talk, show us your willingness to join us (instead of standing apart from us) by volitionally choosing to take the aforementioned cuts, and perhaps more you can think of in order show us, the American citizen, you are one of us and to develop a healthy economy.

Will our leaders so lead? I pray that you will. If you join us both in word and in your actions, we will follow. Otherwise, we are faced with the dilemma that may be at the root of our country’s woes as envisioned by Lee Iaococca’s book, Where Have All The Leaders Gone? This is too unbearable to consider. Will our leaders so lead?

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