By Major General Jerry Curry, USA (Ret.)
The American people are sick and tired of being led by amateurs. They hunger for real leaders not marketers, for those who will take charge and guide the nation back to being the “Shining City on a Hill” that it once was. Following polls is not leading. People want someone to not only diagnose the nation’s maladies and problems, but to fix them.
Americans know that criticizing, finger pointing, and blaming others isn’t real leadership. A real leader can make a smoothly functioning team out of a mob of people who mistrust or even hate each other. Leaders accept an organization’s existing failures and do not blame them on their predecessors, no matter how easy or tempting it is. That is the kind of leadership our Founders demonstrated when they formed this great nation.
What America’s citizens – unsuccessfully so far – are looking for in those they vote into Congress and the White House are experienced, dedicated, knowledgeable, proficient leaders — not rank amateurs. They want leaders who can not only fix the nation’s problems but heal political and cultural sicknesses, leaders who when things go wrong know that the first question to ask is, “Who is in charge?” Once that little formality is sorted out the other questions, answers and actions automatically fall into place and good results flow quickly and smoothly. Once everyone knows who is in charge of what, they quickly figure out who is responsible for what.
Unfortunately both the White House and the Congress have loosed a spirit of lawlessness which is felt not only in the United States, but throughout the world. If the President and the Congress of the U.S. cannot discipline themselves enough to follow the rule of law, and respect America’s citizens there is little hope that the rulers of other nations, especially those in the third world, will respect justice and the rule of law.
No doubt it was a situation like this that caused Revolutionary War Citizen Tom Paine to say, over two hundred years ago, “So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man … Freedom had been hunted around the globe; reason was considered as rebellion.”
The President’s ignoring of the Congress and the Constitution in his repetitive rewriting of the laws of governance can only mean that in his mind, laws passed by Congress are whatever he says they are. As he sees it, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court are not co-equal branches of government with the White House. The President seems to believe that he sovereignly, reigns supreme, above the Congress and the Supreme Court, who are merely lackeys.
It is illegal and cowardly for Congress to openly and willingly surrender its congressional powers to a President, as it does today. If the President of the U.S. can freely abuse his power and not be restrained by Congress or the Constitution, then neither are the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the individual States bound by that same Constitution and law. Both political parties in Congress, especially the President’s party, should be quick to act forcibly in taking action against a President who exceeds his constitutional authority as our current President so often does.
Americans hunger for a take charge leader, one who will refuse to play pass the buck but will instead get things done. General George Washington and his troops suffered many setbacks during the Revolutionary War, in fact most of the battles he fought ended in defeat for his forces. But nowhere did he blame anyone other than himself.
One wonders where have all the General Washington’s and the statesmen gone and why do senior public servants today – elected and appointed – find it so easy to lie, evade responsibility and to blame others for their own failures and short comings?
The nation’s goal should be not to light a fire of truth under its public servants, but to light a true fire within them.
Jerry Curry is a retired Army Major General, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Carter administration; Acting Press Secretary to the Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration; and Administrator of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in the Bush Sr. administration.