Don’t look now, but we’re a country with no leader.
There are certain times when the entire country, regardless of political affiliation, turns toward the president for leadership. In times of crisis the office of the presidency has the grandeur and gravity to help provide the stability and confidence to help guide us through chaos.
I was no fan of George W. Bush, but in the days after 9/11 his genuine compassion and concern for the victims, and the country in general, were very helpful. And Barack Obama’s steady empathy every time this country suffered from its most shameful accepted weakness—gun violence—helped bring us back from the edge of madness and despair.
As much as I prefer not to think about it, there will be a day soon where something horrible will happen in the United States and 300 million people will look toward the Oval Office for comfort, guidance, and reassurance.
And the current occupant will respond with some diatribe that makes him seem like a melding of Kim Jong Un, David Duke, and Dirty Harry.
If we’re lucky, a speechwriter will prepare remarks for him, and he’ll deliver those remarks without ad-libbing. But even if he doesn’t say anything to alienate the majority of Americans who don’t share his repugnant view of the world, we’ll know that he’s speaking someone else’s words. We’ll know that he’s a fake. Sad.
You’ll remember from your high school civics class that the United States has three branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive. The three branches are supposed to provide checks and balances on each other. When it comes to governing none of the three are more powerful than the others. However, when it comes leadership and providing direction for the country, the president stands alone.
We are in a leadership vacuum.
I will not follow this president. He has shown throughout his campaign and his term in office that he lacks the judgment, temperament, patience, and humility required to serve in the Oval Office. This is more than just a difference of opinion on policy, such as I experienced during the Bush presidency. An amoral, anti-intellectual, self-centered malice defines this man’s character, and to follow him anywhere is to put our future as a country, and our personal futures as people, in jeopardy.
So if the president refuses to fulfill one of the core requirements of the office—leadership—then to whom do we turn? How long can we continue as a country without a leader?
Congress can’t lead. The 535 members cannot act as one voice. And even if they could, we don’t need leadership by committee.
We might turn to those in “leadership” positions in Congress, but they’ve shown for years that they care about little more than scoring a victory for their side. Mitch McConnell “led” the Senate with the sole goal of defeating everything Obama wanted to do, even if Obama wanted to do something with which McConnell agreed. Paul Ryan can’t get the members of his own party in the House to follow him, and he has cowered to Trump every time he has had the opportunity to stand up to him.
Democrats have no leader. Of the three most popular Democrats in the country, two of them are former presidents, and one of them just ran for president and lost. Democrats in Congress are tainted by Congressional Stink, and Democrats in state offices aren’t well-known enough to provide real leadership to the entire country.
The vice president is an ideologue, and during his time as a governor showed that unless you’re a white Christian male, he has little concern for you and no interest in what you have to say. No one has benefitted from Trump’s election victory more than Mike Pence. And the fact that he accepted Trump’s offer to serve as his running mate and vice president shows that he lacks the judgment to lead. He’ll never wash the Trump stench from his soul.
(I’m reminded of the old Groucho Marx quote: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” I refuse to follow any person who thought serving with Trump would be a good idea. Pence’s decision to do so eliminates from consideration for future positions of authority.)
The most consistent leadership this year has come from journalists. Men and women who this president continues to marginalize are doing good, well-researched, substantial, truthful work. Made-up stories from illegitimate sources that exist for no other reason than to get people to click helped put Trump in office, but this work from Real News sources will help remove him.
Donald Trump is good at making people afraid. He’s good at shirking responsibility and deflecting blame. He’s good at attacking others, and starting fights. He’s good at lying.
But he cannot lead this country.
For the sake of us all, I hope we find someone that can do so.
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