We need national leadership that has a vision

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 23, 2006

I am a romantic at heart. I like passion in life, passion about all the things we do, including passion about the role of government as a method to make our lives better.

But occasionally I wonder if I am the only one who remembers the theme of national leadership as a noble calling to serve all of us by expanding the vision of the greatest country ever.

I remember some great accomplishments that made us proud of our country. Yet, today, our government says that government is bad.

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Our leaders claim that one of our problems is the very government they lead. They claim that government employees are inefficient, government programs wasteful and government itself too big to serve the country. I am curious … if government is the problem, why don’t our political leaders fix the problem?

Isn’t that their job? After almost six years of one-party rule, how can the leaders avoid responsibility for the problems they claim surround them?

Perhaps the problem isn’t government … at least not the agencies created to serve our nation.

Perhaps the problem is the political leadership in Washington, those blaming everyone but themselves.

Consider FEMA. This administration put political appointees, beginning with Michael Brown, in charge of an agency that required technical expertise.

The political appointees pushed out the many experts in the agency and made decisions from a political perspective rather than a technical one. The result? You have seen it in New Orleans.

The EPA is in much the same shape. After 9/11 the EPA told everyone it was safe to go back to the site and clean, even though their own experts told them there was danger from the air.

Now, five years later, many are reporting health problems from their work at ground zero. Did the agency fail? No, the White House revised the EPA statements to conceal the danger at ground zero.

The EPA has also rolled back environmental standards or re-written executive orders, so much so that both states and individual industries have moved to the front of the environmental movement while our government retreats.

GE and BP are excellent examples of the new corporate proactive environmentalism. Did the EPA fail us? No, the administration, the politicals, re-wrote the rules.

It wasn’t always this way. I remember the national dedication to the success of NASA and all that was accomplished with government at the forefront.

I remember the success of the Voting Rights Act, a bold government plan to end generations of voting discrimination by individual states … a decision that made America better.

I remember the formation of the EPA and the powerful effect it had on cleaning up America’s streams and rivers. I even remember the EEOC attacking workplace discrimination and helping Americans get fair treatment at work.

In my lifetime we had a national government who had big ideas … ideas designed to elevate our country that made us all better for the experience. Today we have a government of what can’t be done, of what doesn’t work, and of corruption at a level that should embarrass all of us.

I want back the national leadership that had a vision. I want a government that solves problems like our oil dependency with a program that shows our greatness again. I want government that regulates the excesses of business, that protects consumers, that dreams big and plans bigger.

We are a noble experiment, and we can re-discover our greatness. We deserve leadership that sees an American vision.

Dr. Jim Crawford is a local political enthusiast.

He can be reached at drjim893@msn.com.