Where have the leaders gone?Written by Scott Allegrini | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Does it feel like something is wrong or like something is missing? Everything seems to be in crisis: local cities and school districts cutting services; states on the verge of bankruptcy; the nation is $13 trillion in debt, with a trillion-dollar deficit annually.
For the last 40 years the politicians gave us more and more. The politicians used our government like Aladdin’s lamp, except instead of granting three wishes, the wishes are limitless. Whatever politicians wanted, they made happen without regard for the cost. The golden goose (Americans and our free enterprise system) would pay for it. Our elected, no matter if they had a D or an R after their names, were living it up. They bought constituents’ votes with more pork.
“The American Republic will endure until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money,” Alexis de Tocqueville said.
Well, the golden goose cannot keep up with the politicians’ spending. As many of us have experienced, we can live above our means for a while, but we also know what will happen next. We must live below our means to pay for the extravagance and this is where we are today.
The line has been drawn in the sand. For 40 years, we lived above our means. Now we have the predictable result which is debt: both moral and financial.
“Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people,” Thomas Jefferson said.
We instinctively know the answer. If we lose our jobs, we cut our expenses. If we have debt, we live below our means to pay the debt. The answer may be clear, but it requires leaders — those leaders who are willing to face facts. We need leaders who have the courage to stand up and say, “No more, sorry folks, but we can’t afford it.”
I can hear you snicker, “Yeah, right, Scott; where are we going to find a leader to do that?”
The answer is simple but frightening. Our political leaders reflect us. When politicians spent money like they had a printing press, it was because we wanted the goodies, or at least we tolerated it. The politicians could not have depleted our treasury without our allowing it to happen. So, we are in this mess not because of politicians but because of lack of leadership on our part.
A representative republic reflects the people and for the past 40 years, we stopped being leaders. We do not want to make the difficult choices. Instead of telling ourselves, “No, I can’t afford that new car,” we take out a 6-year loan. Instead of telling our children no, we buy them Xboxes and cell phones. The family wants a new house; we may not be able to afford it, but we know we deserve the best.
To pay for all these toys we can’t afford, we have to work more. Mom and Dad have to work 40-plus hours and barely spend any time with the family. We use material things to replace time; we buy our kids everything they want to make ourselves feel better for not being there.
Government reflects the people; we want it all and the government gives it to us. The best military money can buy — check. Health care for elderly and poor — check. Retirement for all — check. Why should we expect the politicians to tell us no, when we won’t tell ourselves no? For 40 years, we have acted like teenagers. We wanted all the freedoms but none of the responsibility.
There is a deficit of leadership in government, because there is a deficit of leadership in the American people. We don’t want to make tough choices so we push the responsibility to others.
So how do we get politicians to become leaders? We start by looking in the mirror and asking ourselves, are we willing to accept the duty of being citizens? Are we willing to say no? Are we willing to accept responsibility? Are we willing to become leaders in our house, neighborhood and community?
Tough times are here. So we have a choice to make: Will “We the people” stand up as leaders and do our duty or will we continue to delegate the responsibility to others and hope that this gravy train keeps on chugging? We are going to have to make difficult decisions. Will we accept that “We the people” are not just words in our Constitution, but are the owner’s manual for our form of government?
Either way, the person who will determine which direction we follow is the person in the mirror.
Scott Allegrini is a founding member of the local organization Children of Liberty. The group’s website is www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty/.