Election 2004: Leadership and Direction



The election of 2004, more than any other in my lifetime, is about direction, not just specific issues. To paraphrase Confucius, "If you don't change direction, you'll end up where you're headed."

A recent poll indicates that almost 60% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Yet, half of those polled approved of President Bush as a leader. I find those results startling. They indicate that many Americans may be ignoring a critical fact: leadership greatly influences direction.

Several major directions for the nation and its citizens have developed during the past four years.

• Anti-American feelings and policies have increased greatly throughout the world, and
American credibility has suffered.
• Terrorist organizations have increased their numbers by the thousands.
• Division and polarization have increased among Americans in politics, economic opportunity, and social cooperation.
• Violence as a way of dealing with differences has become more accepted.
• America and Americans are less secure.
• The “politics of deceit” has increased.

These directions are directly linked to the attitudes and policies of the leaders in power. If our leaders truly believe we are a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, then they have the responsibility to be honest with us, and to be held accountable for the directions they set. Attempting to deceive the public time and again, twisting facts and withholding information, and conducting the formation of policy in secret as though the People have no right to know....these patterns erode democracy and weaken our nation.

The direction of a society is greatly influenced by its top leadership. It is clearly apparent that "If we don't change leadership, we won't change direction."

(Copyright 2004: Domestic and international law prohibits the public use of this article without the written permission of the author. Any reprint must bear the author’s name and notice of legal restrictions.}