The giant is stirring. The American people, left, right, and center are taking to the streets, the airwaves, and the polls in opposition to the failure of their leaders. In 2010, the conservative Tea Party movement catalyzed a seismic turnover in congress with the election of 106 freshmen (96 Republicans and 10 Democrats). This year has seen the rise of the self-described “sensible center” as centrist businessmen like Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz and organizations like No Labels have called for greater cooperation among our fractured political class. Meanwhile Americans Elect has garnered millions of signatures in an effort to circumvent our polarized political parties and hold a national electronic primary for all eligible American voters providing fifty state presidential ballot access to the winner. And within the past few weeks the left has added its forces as people take to the streets in organized protest against Wall Street and corporations. The gang's all here.
Meanwhile, the political industrial complex goes about business as usual as if nothing has changed. The consultants are consulting. The pollsters are polling. The spinners are spinning. The fundraisers are raising. And the politicians continue to do what they have long done – seek self-serving tactical solutions to their personal electoral problems leaving the real problems of America unresolved and largely unaddressed.
In 2008 a sizable majority of Americans saw the need for change and voted to elect as president an inexperienced and untested man with a scant record of achievement. Unfortunately, even increasing numbers of his own party are beginning to voice publicly what most have reluctantly concluded privately. President Obama is a fine orator but a terrible leader. He has not lived up to his promise or our expectations. With 75% of the country saying we are on the wrong track and a historic low of only 11% of the country voicing confidence in government, he seeks reelection promising four more years indistinguishable from the first three – no change we can believe in, no bi-partisanship, no post racial politics, no mending of the red state blue state divide.
Meanwhile, the Republican contenders for their party nomination, like Lilliputians, wage war over the inconsequential: What line in what book was redacted? When was that offensively named rock in Texas turned over? When does closing a loophole become a tax increase? How many ways can I tell you what I am against without telling you what I am for? And when is a flip a flop?
Small wonder people are taking to the streets and in ever greater numbers “throwing the bums out”. No one is happy with where we are or where we are going. As long as our elections are restricted to match races between two unworkable ideological extremes, America will be locked in a debilitating stalemate. As long as we base our votes on fidelity to orthodoxy and elect political technicians rather than real leaders, we will compound the sources of our discontent.
Americans should be out in the streets. We should be resisting the unresponsive and irresponsible leadership that has risen in government and industry. We should throw them out. But the solution is not to replace them with more of the same. We need new leadership that is competent, non partisan, pragmatic, responsible, and biased toward action – something we haven't seen in this country for a long time.