The United States of America lacks a national message. This country appears rudderless, unguided and our leaders appear incapable of leading. We have an unemployment rate of 9.2%. The US has now been downgraded in its Standard and Poor’s rating. The United States National Economic Council, headed by Gene Sperling, has not established policy to guide the United States out of this second recession. A “Super Committee” has been formed to “draft a plan to create $1.2 trillion in savings”, but some have said there are other committees designed to do exactly the same thing as well as calls for public accountability. Small business “drives the national economy” but has not received any tax breaks or bailouts, and over 50% of businesses are failing in the US. The Republican Party and the Democratic party hurl barbs back and forth, citing facts and figures driven by possibly biased studies. 45% of Americans trust the Republicans to help save the economy, yet it has been ‘proven’ that Democratic presidents have historically been better for the economy. That last statement was established in 2008, however, before the first recession. The stock market appears to be in a free-fall, with little hope of recovery. The American people have lost faith in Congress.
Democrats are calling for their President and titular leader, President Barrack Obama, to be a bolder leader and take greater risks. Dee Dee Myers, President Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary: “He’s for jobs. I’ve heard him say that. He’s for being the grown-up in the room. But beyond that, I’m not actually sure what his bottom line is.” We need the President to now become a leader and communicate his priorities. Sorry, Iftar dinners barely qualify as public diplomacy and we certainly don’t want an “Organizer in Chief“. We want and need something and someone bigger than that during this crisis.
Mr. President, what we need is a leader with a plan. Take bold steps. Change the country. Be presidential. Be a leader.
According to Leadership 501, these are the five most important traits of a leader:
Honesty. President Obama has already had his honesty questioned publicly by Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC). Ignoring that break in congressional decorum, others have said the same thing here and here. Ignoring these probably politically biased articles and reports, Rasmussen reports cite a lack of trust on issues for President Obama.
What the President needs to do is establish his honesty with the American people. President Obama’s presidency was supposed to be accompanied by an increase in transparency in government, but we are seeing only small steps in that direction. We need to see even more openness and perhaps establish a dialogue (two way communications) between constituents and our leaders and representatives, both in the executive and legislative branch.
Forward-Looking. The United States establishes only two year plans, due to political reasons. A recent conversation with a senior reinforced that fear of mine, that the US is rudderless when it comes to long term planning. Mr. President, please become Presidential and establish long term plans and take steps to make them happen. Please establish an apolitical long term process and find ways to guide the country in that direction. I was a career professional soldier and, quite honestly, politics was never our guiding factor, it was always about the mission. If you can establish a government of professionals and not politicians, this will help tremendously. We are currently mired in a political appointee system which is held up in Congress and often operates contrary to the betterment of the country.The current two party system is great for checks and balances but it is harming the country.
Competent. By establishing a professional government you will establish your competency. Take more time for planning and then relay the broad scope of those plans to the public, ask for feedback through representatives in Congress and then listen. Encourage these Senators and Representatives to think of the United States first and party second. Yes, this will be wildly unpopular within certain circles, especially with special interest groups (which almost everybody dislikes) but it will move the country towards a more professional government and gain you broad support.
Inspiring. The citizens of the United States of America have lost faith in the government, at almost all levels. Please establish a professional government and inspire us.
Intelligent. You are an intelligent person, Mr. President, otherwise the American people would not have elected you. Now use your intelligence, gather even more intelligent people around you and be Presidential. Lock them in a room, if you have to, and have them establish a plan for the betterment of the United States. Then listen to them and make that into a long-term apolitical plan. Work for “We the People”.
Communicate. I’m adding another category. Please establish two-way communications with “We the People” through our Senators and Representatives as well as to your office. Polls are fine, but have them on every issue. Use technology and get input from your constituents as well as sharing your thoughts. “We need your help to solve this problem, please send your input to your representatives.” Establish a national message and information sharing system. Show the world that the US has as a plan and then work in that direction. Be more altruistic. Improve our country.
“I, name, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Lead your country, Mr. President, that is your job.
This was my inspiration for this piece. I tried to remove as much of the politics as I could but this video inspired me.
Update: Obama agrees.