‘Do Nothing’ Congress? Far, Far From It
In November of 2011, UCLA fired football coach Rick Neuheisel after the Bruins lost to crosstown rival the University of Southern California 50-0. Quoting UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero after the firing, “Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache. However, it is apparent to me that a move was necessary at this time in order to give UCLA the best chance to enjoy the success that we all desire.”
Why was coach Neuheisel fired? Why were Ron Zook, Pat Hill, Steve Fairchild, and Neil Callaway… coaches of other college football teams… all fired after the 2011 college football season from coaching their respective teams? Everyone knows the answer to this question: because their teams performed poorly. This answer makes perfect sense to us. Even though technically it was the players of the team who failed to overcome their rivals, it is the coach and his leadership abilities upon which the culpability for the end result squarely rests. Leadership is a word that embodies so many attributes, skills, and components of an individual that it is impossible to dissect it completely. Suffice it to say though, that it is a lack of leadership, or the execution of poor leadership, that caused these coaches to be relieved of their positions. Nobody would disagree.
There are many areas of life where the leadership skills of an individual are the undeniable source of eventual success or failure. As a parent, when a child exhibits reprehensible or heinous behavior, it is the parent who is held accountable. As a CEO, manager, or supervisor, the overall performance of the company or department is directly attributable to the leadership of the individual granted the oversight thereof. Nobody would disagree.
For the past two years, the general opinion of congress as a successful “team” and member of the federal government has sunk lower and lower with each passing day. So much so in fact that it has been labeled by the media as a “Do Nothing” congress. Congress hasn’t managed to pass any law that would evoke job production and economic recovery. Congress hasn’t been able to overcome the ever-growing partisanship that defines it. Congress hasn’t even been able to accomplish what should be the most elementary task of writing and approving its own budget, one of its primary responsibilities! By all appearances, and technically speaking, Congress has indeed failed in its legislative duties to this nation and her people. Why, though, do so many spectators of this political sport discount the dominant role and extensive influence that the Executive of this nation has upon Congress and refuse to hold him accountable for such? In any other area of life where leadership plays a critical role, we fully attribute both the successes and failures to it; but when it comes to the President of the United States, he seems to have been relieved by the general populace from bearing the ramifications of the Congressional losses that are most surely his to bear.
I submit to you that our Congress is far from a “Do Nothing” congress, my friends. Daily we see and hear the intense and vocal bipartisanship that has become their mascot and signature attribute. The debates that take place within the individual committees as they give due process to the specific duties delegated to them are overflowing with zeal and passion as points and counterpoints are exchanged from polar opposite ends of every argument. Intellectual advantages are jockeyed for by the participating members while they fight to simultaneously maintain the high moral ground and their constituents’ best interests. They appear on national television, sharing their insights and opinions on matters of great controversy; they write entire books in an effort to help educate the American people on facts and circumstances as they see them to be; and they loyally fight to uphold the standards of their personal beliefs and the Constitution of the United States of America as they understand it. This Congress is far, far from a “Do Nothing” congress. The problem does not lie at all in the individual abilities of this team. The fact that they have failed to be productive for the past two years is not a shortcoming of their own. The problem, wholly and completely, lies with this President and his utter lack of leadership ability.
Now I know that many would say that to analogize organized sports teams with the branches of the federal government is a bit of a stretch. As we all know, the three branches were architect-ed to be autonomous in many ways, and therefore responsible to a huge degree for their own successes or failings. I could not agree more. But what I believe many people overlook or have failed to see, and what makes the analogy completely viable, is the deep and meaningful influence that the President of the United States has as a leader. Not only is he a leader of the average citizenry of this country, but also of those duly elected citizens who make up the Legislative branch as well. The easy way to see this fact is to simply take a moment to imagine what Congress might be like, even being populated with Representatives and Senators at polar opposites of any given debate, if our President actually possessed the ability and desire to unite and lead. What if the President was an individual who was first and foremost a peacemaker; a man who when he looked out into a crowd of faces saw only his fellow Americans rather than Republicans, Democrats, or any other demographic. What if the President spent his every waking moment considering the office he held to be a privilege and a duty, and walked in humbleness of heart, honesty, integrity, and possessed an unrelenting sense of personal responsibility for the state of the Union? If the office of President of the United States was occupied by a man of such character, and that man possessed the ability to lead people to victories and successes, do you have any doubt whatsoever that we would not have seen a constant flow of positive results from this Congress?
As everyone knows, a team is a reflection of the individual who leads it. The attributes, morals, points of view, character, and example of that individual have a silent yet distinct and profound effect on those being led. The leader, by acting as a living example of what it is he or she asks of others, induces respect in the team that causes them to not only hear what is being said, but (and this is vital) to lay the words and example being presented to them to heart. My urge at this juncture is to digress into a deeper exploration of what it takes to be a good leader, but I know that my point has been made: A good leader can turn even an internally divided group into a cohesive, productive, winning team. We have seen it done many times in other areas of life; why not in this instance?
So then, should we absolve our President of the full responsibility of the abject failure of this Congress to perform its duties toward the nation it represents? Is President Obama able to stand before We The People, dip his hands into the water, and declare to us his complete innocence for the suffering this nation is continuing to endure? He does so on an almost daily basis, and has from the day he took office. Casting blame, passing the buck, dodging responsibility, delegating what is rightfully his to whatever scapegoat is most convenient at the time…this has become the man’s reputation. Surrounding himself with sycophants, continuously fueling his narcissism, ignoring the will of The People and asserting his own in its place, “leading from behind”, and willfully and blatantly exerting himself to bypass the Constitutional constraints placed upon his office…these are the deeds that expose the man. None of these things are the manifestations of a good leader; oh no, quite the opposite. Rather, these are the fruits of an individual who is, as many others have aptly observed, an amateur who is wholly unqualified in nearly every respect to lead an entire nation. Why he currently resides in the White House is a censure of the legacy of the political system that has grown so tainted and distasteful over the decades, but that is another matter in itself. The point to be made, and the conclusion to be drawn, is that you shall know a tree by its fruit, and the fruit this President continuously produces, one of which is the lack of results from the Legislative branch to whom he is leader, prove that Obama is a counter-productive coach who must, for the sake of the team’s success, be fired immediately.
So the next time you hear someone refer to this Congress as the “Do Nothing Congress”, take a moment to remember how zealous our Representatives and Senators are, who it is that touted himself as “The Great Uniter,” and how miserably he has failed at personifying that title. Not only does he actively and somewhat successfully manage to divide the People along racial, political, gender, and societal lines, but he has also found good success at doing the same within our Legislative branch.
To re-quote Dan Guerrero in my own words, “Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache. However, it is apparent to me that a move is necessary at this time in order to give the United States of America the best chance to enjoy the success that we all desire.” Out of love for our country and out of hope for our posterity, we must as a nation FIRE President Barack Hussein Obama on November 6th, 2012 and elect someone who will hopefully do more to represent what a good leader and President of these United States ought to be.