Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

February 28, 2013

Roosevelt, Reagan, and You

Greensburg — The people crave leadership, yet they can turn against it quickly.

Same as it ever was. Maybe we should be grateful the electorate chose to send delegates to Washington D.C. who can’t seem to work together. Let the two sides keep an eye on each other in the Capitol, and while they bicker we keep living our lives out here.

For a long time, I told myself a deadlocked federal government is just where I want them. The less they do, the more freedom the rest of us get to enjoy. One could argue that by routinely electing volatile and stubborn representatives to office, we are saying we are basically happy with the status quo.

Except we aren’t. What gives?

Back in 1932, the people had become downright angry with Herbert Hoover and his economic travails. It took a crisis to unite the voters across the nation to elect a fey candidate who was intentionally silent or vague about what he intended to do as president. Voters also ushered into Congress a majority from the same party as a radical repudiation of the GOP. Voters gave over the keys to the engines of power to Democrats and said, in effect, “Have at it.”

Today, we aren’t thoroughly disgruntled with either party in particular. More precisely, some of us are disgruntled with their guys, and some are disgruntled with our guys. So we just keep sending them back. I interpret this to mean we are fundamentally happy with the gridlock. Since neither party is plainly to blame and things haven’t reached crisis proportions, let the political theater continue.

The Tea Party emerged as a response to this self-perpetuating mockery. It had its own limitations, as any movement does, and it has championed a few leaders who weren’t quite ready for prime time. I wonder, how did the nation know that FDR was ready back in 1932?

The dirty secret is that he was by no means ready with a bushel basket of policies. He opted for experimentation, trying this and that, replacing one program with another, so that the real value of his early years was that at least he was trying. The Supreme Court declared some of his programs unconstitutional. And he freely admitted when programs didn’t work. Historians concede that his busy-ness never did bring us out of the Great Depression. The war did that.

So, what do we want in a time of civic stress? A calming voice with no moral compass who’s willing to aggrandize power for the sake of appearing to be trying awfully hard? There was a president many years later who had been a fan of FDR. This politician set forth three very clear goals and showed little interest in much else. He was even accused of napping and losing interest in the details. Three things.

So, which do we want today? What type of leader do we seek? I curl back over and over in my columns to the same conclusion. We shouldn’t look to Washington for salvation. Let’s cultivate our own leaders, local leaders, people who roll up their sleeves and do the hard business of governing, face-to-face, without teleprompters, drones, and spin doctors.

You know, Confucius used to say that only those who risk making mistakes and learning from them will deserve to become leaders. In our midst, perhaps, the type of leadership we really need is waking up every day, driving our streets, looking out on our world and saying, “Maybe I can help.”

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Craft brewers, vintners bring spirits to State Fair Brad Hawkins felt right at home hawking his beer at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last week.When Hawkins opened his Salt Creek Brewery in a converted filling station in tiny Needmore three years ago, some tee-totaling neighbors protested he was putti

    August 19, 2014

  • Back to the classroom These days, it seems like the summers are going by even faster than they did when I was a student! Just yesterday, the temperatures were beginning to warm up and children were hanging up their backpacks. Now, many of them are already back in the clas

    August 19, 2014

  • Our children and their children Let’s ponder “our children” and “their children.”First, Gov. Mike Pence made a wise call this past week when he ordered the Department of Child Services to begin reimbursing families who had adopted special needs children.A class action lawsuit filed

    August 19, 2014

  • Remember the joy Williams gave Ball State’s Wes Gehring, the author of dozens of books on Hollywood stars, says the apparent suicide of Robin Williams will not tarnish the comedian’s legendary achievements.Williams was found dead Monday in his California home. He was 63.“As the li

    August 16, 2014

  • Why government fails Whatever our political stripe, we all want government to fail less often. Citizens and the media need to pressure elected officials to spend more time digging into the nitty-gritty of fixing bureaucracies.As election season approaches, I’ve been pond

    August 14, 2014

  • Giving young people a second chance How many of you know what the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy is? More basically, how many of you know where it is? I had a vague notion of where it is, but I would have been hard-pressed to tell you much about what it is.The Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe

    August 14, 2014

  • Camping for kicks and giggles (The chances of pitching your tent on a hill of fire ants are directly proportional to the distance from the nearest hospital.)Camping, most notably primitive style, can be a rewarding and fun experience, especially if the site is on the bank of a ho

    August 14, 2014

  • Public safety workers close ranks around gay, lesbian colleagues INDIANAPOLIS – Jason Miller has spent 15 years in a job he loves. He’s an emergency medical technician working two jobs as a first responder, and he’s training to become a firefighter in Kokomo.Miller loves the reward of helping others, he said, and

    August 12, 2014

  • Brooks, Hoosier lawmakers request information from HHS on unaccompanied children in Indiana communities Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) sent a letter signed by eight members of Indiana’s congressional delegation calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to provide up-to-date and congressional district specific information on the 245

    August 12, 2014

  • Defending the Constitution Last week, the House passed a bill authorizing Speak John Boehner to take legal action against the President for his historic abuse of executive power. While no one takes joy in this lawsuit, it was an important step in defending the U.S. Constitutio

    August 7, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes Lunch Bus Delivers Meals to Kids Out of School Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson Independent Autopsy Reveals Michael Brown Wounds Nashville Embraces Motley Crue Obama: 'Time to Listen, Not Just Shout' Lawyer: Gov. Perry Indictment a 'Nasty Attack' Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Iowa Man Builds Statue of a Golfer Out of Balls Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women'
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.