Something that is slowly slipping away in this country is the innate understanding of what made this country. The basic instinct of freedom & independence, an ability to think and act independently of one another and yet still have a common ideal. I would also add to this a mutual respect for our fellow countrymen regardless of race, color, or creed, although the White Fragility crowd is attempting to frame this point differently. The early colonists didn’t have time to worry about whether your skin color or religion conformed to the few. But we are at the point now when we see someone exercising these ideals we are alarmed. It is not common, so the first impression is what is wrong with them? They don’t think like the rest of us! Truth is if it doesn’t violate the law, (the actual law), then good for them. They aren’t subject to “group think” like so many others.
This country was made great by the singular idea that no matter where you come from or what color skin you have you can contribute to any idea and because of your individual background experience, you can add perspective to any idea and likely improve it. This requires independent thought and freedom to express it as well as a level of humility that allows you to question the norm. In the current environment, there is a stigma towards disagreeing with our leaders, it’s not done by reasonable people therefore if you don’t go along then you are by definition unreasonable and should be canceled. Outside of politics, people understand this is happening but most reject the concept. There have always been small groups of people who have fought for this overtly like ANTIFA and the KKK or the Democrats in the 40s, 50s, during the civil rights conflict, and in the 2010s when we began reversing the civil rights gains. But we have always had leaders who understood the difference between leadership and management, who could lead us out of this downward drift, who put the country first and stood for their principles instead of polling and general group think. Ronald Reagan is one of those people, Collin Powell is another who had the ability to look at the world and put their country or their employees first without the color of politics to shade it one way or another.
As we are finding out about some of the things that made General Powell such a great man he understood innately that you must take care of the people who answer to you and you must respond with strength and conviction to your opponents and adversaries. From General Powell, we learned of the Powell Doctrine which in part says to go into any conflict hard, fast, and with overwhelming force, accomplish your defined goals, and then exit. We saw the first part of this in the Iraq war against Saddam Hussein and it worked until the State Department stepped in and tried to do their nation-building shtick. We would have been fine if we had just kept a small stabilizing force present to ensure no more aggression took place from either Iraq or Iran. Reagan also went counter to conventional wisdom in his economic policy and in his foreign policy. He understood that a leader, as opposed to a manager, must stand for something and must understand how the opposition will manipulate anything and everything to undermine the efforts of a true leader. Being a leader takes a strong character, sure of himself and what he is trying to accomplish. Something we haven’t seen in the current administration.
Since the time of Reagan, we have had a series of so-called leaders who are more interested in what everyone else’s opinion is rather than actually leading us from the foundation of their beliefs. Clinton and Obama relied heavily on the opinion poll to determine their next move and the Bushes were only slightly better. What is the common theme throughout all these leaders? They all had a desire to appease their opposition or adversary instead of confronting them with strength and conviction. They bought into the false notion that if you show deference to an opponent they will return the favor. This doesn’t even begin to describe how out of touch these leaders are with people’s true nature even in America. Occasionally you’ll find a person or group of people willing to concede an advantage in favor of similar treatment but once you travel outside of America it is even rarer to encounter this behavior. Once you begin dealing with a heavily patriarchal society then it is a matter of strength and commitment.
Leaders, like good parents, understand the only way to correct bad behavior is to put limits on the miscreants and then defend those limits which Obama, for example, was unwilling to do. Remember the famous Red Line in the sand or the apology tour? Kim Jung Un was developing nukes and was belligerent about any attempts to put limits on him, primarily because he knew no one would try to hold him accountable with anything other than words and empty threats. Diplomacy has many different faces and a good leader must recognize what it takes. Conventional wisdom said a marginal solution to troublesome leaders was appeasement. A good leader, like any parent, will recognize sometimes the opponent needs some recognition and a new vision of the possibility, and that appeasement will only affirm their current view. After 8 years of dealing with the North Koreans, China, and the middle east by President Obama even Trump recognized appeasement would not work and by relying on his instincts managed to 1) convince Kim Jung Un not to further develop his nukes or his delivery systems, 2) shut down the Taliban and Al Qaeda so no US service personnel were placed in harm’s way for the last year of our deployment and, 3) limit China’s encroachment on our intellectual property, shut down the threats against Taiwan and reduced the exploitation of man-made islands in the South China sea. In all these cases Trump recognized the strength of America is our commitment to independence, building relationships, and a singular commitment to our ideals which our adversaries recognized could not be easily bent. When Trump committed to wiping out the home village of the Taliban leader if any harm came to our servicemen and women they adjusted their behavior accordingly; none of our servicemen and women were harmed until he left the White House. When President Trump told President Xi there would be consequences to his market manipulations and intellectual property theft it was significantly reduced. Trump backed up his threats with actions almost immediately and tied them back proportionately to the actions at hand.
The US is unique among all the countries in the world, either now or over time. Our understanding of ruling the country is based on the very simple concept of By the People and For the People. Few countries have come close to this ideal but none have duplicated it to the extent we have. Until recently we successfully integrated every culture that wanted to live here and was able to make them a functioning part of our republic. All you have to look at to know this is true are the origins of the representatives in the House and Senate. Because of our independence and our freedoms, especially our freedom of speech, anyone who puts in the effort will succeed. We have always been a nation of doers who looked down on pseudo victims, you know who I mean, those people who claim disadvantage even when the so-called disadvantage has nothing to do with their lot in life. In this country, we have the most transient poor population in the world. People like Candice Owens, Thomas Sowell, Dr. Ben Carson, Condoleezza Rice were born into poverty but are no longer there because they worked hard and applied themselves to improve their position. Having worked in Mexico and spent some time in China away from the typical tourist spots I have seen how hard it is to transition out of poverty in other countries firsthand. What we have in this country is something very fragile that must be nurtured and cared for. As Benjamin Franklin said when asked what they had created he responded, “A republic madame if you can keep it.” As we begin our next election cycle think very carefully about who you will vote for. Will they be a leader with a conviction or a manager subject to the latest polls and political wind, driven by a prejudiced media? We clearly do not have a leader now. Personally, I’m not interested in voting for someone who will make decisions for my own good that I should make for myself.
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