We Think: On Crisis and Leadership. Is Anyone Out There?

We Think: On Crisis and Leadership. Is Anyone Out There?

July 14, 2016.

What’s happening in America should be disturbing to any sane person. Cold-blooded murders of police officers doing their jobs, shootings by police officers that some see as unjust and race-influenced, unruly crowds shouting bellicose chants, and reminders of the civil strife of the 60’s. All captured live and on the internet.

Our nation may be more polarized today than any time since the turbulent years surrounding the Vietnam War and Watergate. Primeval fear and anger appear to be growing, as is frustration with government’s incapacity to protect, serve and solve problems.

It’s about race and more. Americans yearn for leadership to calm their anxiety over racial and religious divisions, and about risks to our homeland.  Leadership that unifies people and facilitates aspirational and pragmatic solutions. On this count the President’s rhetoric often sounds disengaged, and Congress is entirely invisible.

On Monday, Loudoun’s Mike Chapman represented the Major County Sheriff’s Association at the White House as one of eight law enforcement leaders to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden about policing and racial tensions.  To the President’s credit, he was fully engaged in the meeting, but the press release that followed spoke of the Administration’s commitment to find solutions, and little more.  What does it take for leaders to actually lead?

Disturbing too is having to choose the next President from the likely nominees of the major parties. On the one hand, civility and substance are often replaced by name calling and platitudes. The alternative is a candidate who the FBI Director let off the hook for transgressions that most Americans would expect to go to jail for, and who is not contrite.

Democrats blame Republicans, Republicans blame Democrats, and both sides hustle for political advantage.  As they do, Americans become increasingly less trusting of government.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that only 29% of likely voters think America is moving in the right direction, and that’s the high water mark of similar surveys. Reuters says the number is just 20%.  If you think it’s all about the President and his job rating, it’s not. The latest Real Clear Politics average of all surveys shows an underwhelming 14% of the nation believes the U.S. Congress is doing a good job.  It would help if they worked together for practical results, at least sometimes.

America deserves better from our elected leaders, especially those in Washington. We need more healers, more doers, more men and women who inspire by their words – and their deeds.

Is anyone out there?