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Blog item: Leadership And Compromise: Two Presidents

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3 comments, last: Nov-11-2010   Add a comment   Author:  PT (Nov-9-2010)    Play a Video
Categories: Economic/Financial, Philosophical & Quality of Life, Political

President Franklin Roosevelt speaking in 1936 about confronting greed-dominated government. Click to play the video.Because it relates to the failed efforts so far to change environmental policy, as well as to implement true economic reform and healthcare policy reform, it is time to state the obvious:

Barack Obama is a fine gentleman, and has excellent self-control, but is lacking as a leader.

This lack of leadership has had the effect of allowing defeats, with only very slight improvements, in the three major policy areas that his administration has approached.  And the lack of leadership has now enabled a reactionary mob to regain a foothold in the United States federal government.

To understand this point about Barack Obama and leadership does not require a great deal of thought and research.  Obama has at times been compared with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as both presidents were elected at a time of significant economic difficulty, and were brought in under a promise of Change.  But I would like to highlight the difference in approach of these two individuals.  While our current president continues to speak of working across the aisle (i.e. with the Republicans), FDR in 1936 and on other occasions, made his approach perfectly clear.  Some of his words were:

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

The reader should know that confidence in its government is one of the key determiners of happiness in a nation's citizenry, so proper leadership by government is vital to happiness and societal health.  Failure in true leadership also undermines clarity of thought in an entire nation, and may lead to poor democratic decisions in addressing environment, economics, and healthcare, to name a few major areas.

The attached video has some static images, but more importantly has the audio of most of that 1936 FDR speech; the text can be found here.  The emotionalism, the generosity, the righteous anger, and the absence of moral relativism are exactly what we need today to effect change, but we are not getting that.  Only with the high level of charisma demonstrated in 1936, and used for positive ends, will we as a nation take proper action to curtail climate change and to reverse gradual environmental decline.

I hope all my readers, after listening to the soundtrack on the video or reading the words, will consider the effect of speaking the truth with one's whole being.  Speaking truth can change the world.

Related reading:
  "Never before in all our history have these force..." (Nov-9-2010)
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  Our Delinquent Leadership (Oct-3-2008)
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  I Have a Dream (Aug-14-2008)

Click one tag to see readings related specifically to that tag; click "Tags" to see all related readings
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Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Nov-11-2010)   Web site
The leadership role most notably absent in the USA is that of the people. Politicians should not need to appeal to businesses large and small but to people, rich and poor. Unfortunately most people feel powerless.

This is shown by low turnouts at elections and lack of interest in demonstrations. Turnouts in recent presidential/general elections for G7 democracies are: France (2007) 84%; USA (2008) 63%; Italy (2008): 80%; Canada (2008) 59%; Germany (2009) 71%; Japan (2009) 69%; UK (2010) 65%. (Canada's 59% was the lowest in its history; America's 63% was the highest since the 1960s.) In October the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or fear drew 215,000 people to Washington. In the same month, four protests in France attracted between 1 and 3 million demonstrators each.

War, corruption, pollution, poverty, unfair tax system, Wall Street greed, health care, education: Americans have plenty to protest about. But instead of leading the charge for reform, many end up following a Tea Party paid for by corporations.

In a democracy the people rule. In the USA the people have let power slip from their hands. They will not get it back without a struggle, if at all.
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Nov-9-2010)   Web site

And I disagree with the disagreement, "old" friend.

A leader who can sway enough voters through strong backbone and clear speaking, will be elected despite corporate opposition. In addition, with the right skills, today's leaders can find smaller but numerous businesses that can benefit from enlightened policies, so the net effect would be to gain more positive votes for re-election.

As far as charisma, of course it can be used for negative ends, which is the reason I include the caveat that charisma needs to be used for non-selfish purposes, or it destructive. The same can be said of any system... religion, capitalism, laws, they can all be used for enlightened ends that help enhance human capacity and awareness, or they can be used for self-serving ends that diminish everyone outside a narrow contingent.
Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Nov-9-2010)   Web site

An excellent article written with the best of intentions, but I disagree with the key tenets.

First, I would point out that the key 1930s figure to display emotion, anger, charisma and an absence of moral relativism was not FDR but Adolf Hitler. There is a flip-side to advocating strong leadership.

Second, I disagree with your analysis of why Obama has failed. In his election campaign he was either naive or lying. He said "yes we can" but the system said "no you can't". Republicans and Democrats politicians alike owe their positions to corporate donations; if they wish to be re-elected they need to keep these corporations happy. The system is fundamentally undemocratic. The United States does not need a different leader; it needs a different system.

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About author/contributor Member: PT (David Alexander) PT (David Alexander)
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Member: PT (David Alexander) My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.

Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.

I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.

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