As we begin 2022, America doesn’t lack for greatness. It lacks for great leadership. Today, less than 30% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction. Distrust for our institutions grows by widening margins.
The nation is shaken to its core by tireless cynics and critics. The media and Big Tech feed us a steady diet of shock, fear and reasons to panic.
We are so often left uninspired today by those in positions of authority. The duplicity and weakness of President Biden may come to mind, but so do many others of both parties who command influence with a smarminess only exceeded by its mediocrity.
For a nation facing an ideological conflict between the divisive and intolerant cultural Marxists and those who hold traditional American values, people are thirsting for that quaint notion of someone willing to take up the cause of reconnecting us with our national pride.
The pandemic was an opportunity for leaders to rally Americans during a once-in-a-century national crisis. Instead, we have been left to watch as they sparred with the press, rambled incoherently, contradicted themselves repeatedly and allowed unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, unions and corporate interests to take charge.
We seek an elusive humbleness and introspection. Sen. Alan Simpson’s line from his eulogy of President George H.W. Bush describes the Beltway mindset succinctly. “Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C., are not bothered by heavy traffic,” he said.
Too often today, we feel talked at or admonished by those in power. As we saw this week, Mr. Biden’s divisive, vicious and imperial rhetoric tears at the nation’s fabric. Former President Donald Trump’s erratic bravado often pushed people past their comfort zone. There’s a sense of entitlement and arrogance among senior elected officials that’s repulsive.
Our leaders need only look to the greatest among us — the military, cops, nurses, doctors, social workers, nonprofit leaders, clergy — most of whom make their profound impact without clamoring for the spotlight.
We also seek, in this crisis, the lost art of compromise. Too many conveniently forget Ronald Reagan’s 80-20 rule. The idea that you can forge agreement while still being principled has curiously been thrown in the eternal flame of the Washington political dumpster fire.
There’s an authenticity problem as well. Officials today are too busy conjuring the ghosts of those who actually inspired the nation rather than harness their own moment. They are diminished by their transparent efforts to borrow credibility from others. In those moments, they ignore that people want leaders who are willing to be uniquely their own person.
Americans are also starving for honest leaders, willing to admit when they were wrong and dare to change course. They’re tired of those who cast blame and dig in their heels at all costs.
Mr. Trump was afraid to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci despite serious questions about his strategy, effectiveness and truthfulness. Mr. Biden’s Administration is being overrun by the left, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s acolytes embedding in the financial regulatory system to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ welfare state apostles. Americans increasingly view their president as little more than a figurehead.
The government has become like a lion, and Americans have a sinking feeling that elected leaders are powerless to stop it from prowling the land ravenous for the taste of our freedom.
For all our obsession over our elections, the block and tackle of daily politics, and the social media maelstrom that passes for influence, what is missing is the leader who truly, positively moves people.
Today, our leaders are as disconnected from us as we are from each other. They seem more distant and out of touch despite our fanatical scrutiny of their every action. Certainly, having a large Twitter following doesn’t make you worthy of anything, let alone leadership.
America is about forging a balance between law and freedom, government and individual liberty. American leadership is about forging a balance between a prudent boldness that commands broad respect and a pleasant fortitude that can rally us to believe again in the greatness of our nation.
As we begin 2022, we are indeed searching for a new generation of American leadership, men and women who genuinely inspire us and unite us in the faith that together, we can keep creating a more perfect union. Let’s pray this is the year we find them.
• Tom Basile is an author, a former Bush Administration official and the host of “America Right Now” and “Wake Up America Weekend” on Newsmax Television.