December 7, 1941: A day when Americans woke up to the attack by the Japanese and the day that America pulled together and won the biggest war in our history. If we could do that back then, what is wrong with the U.S. government now? I wonder if we were attacked today if our elected leaders would still be sucking their thumbs and whining about the other side. I would hope not, but then we have no examples of leadership on either side when it comes to the budget and this “fiscal cliff” everyone is talking about. Each side says the other is proposing totally unrealistic plans.
So, guess what, Washington? The rest of the world says, “Grow up.” I have friends who are Republican, Democrat, and Independent. All of them know that, with the right will, this country can accomplish anything, but we need leadership. Leadership is not giving a “talk.” It is not thinking about what Chris Matthews will shout on his show. It is definitely not whining to the public about the other side. At this point, leadership is getting the key players in a private setting and hammering it out. Each side is going to have to give. Each side will win something. Each side has to help the other side sell it to their more extreme constituents.
I know that leadership is hard to find today — the Internet, the talking heads, the 24-hour constant news — have all changed the role of leadership, especially in the elected positions. Even Tip O’Neil would not be able to lead the way he did during his day in today’s world. The new leadership needs to adjust. The President is now beholden to no one since he can’t be re-elected. He, therefore, can do the most to find a deal because he has no worries except for history. If he lets us fall of the cliff, history will not be kind to him in 20 years. He is the one who can get the ball rolling and make a “giant step for mankind,” as Neil Armstrong said.
The problem is not going to get easier as time passes, the stock market starts reflecting the stupidity of D.C., people lose jobs, and companies hold back investments. So what are the “boys” waiting for? We all know that the tax structure needs fixing, Social Security and Medicare are going to have to be reformed, and we must stop having wars on multiple fronts. We also know that raising the highest tax rate by a few percentage points is not going to solve any of those problems just like eliminating all the loopholes in the code won’t erase the deficit. Stop bickering over the small points and focus on what can be done on each side to move us onward and upward.
On December 7, we should remember our heroes – and pray that we find some new ones who have the willingness and ability to step up to the plate and get things done in the 21st Century — just like they did in the 20th Century.