Leaders: Who Plays in the Sandbox?


In response to The Daily Post prompt: “Dear Leader”if your government (local or national) accomplished one thing this year, what would you like it to be?

“Why can’t we all just get along?” In 1992, Rodney King appealed for calm during a rampage that followed the acquittal of four police officers charged with assaulting him after a high-speed chase.

King’s quote is not a bad one. Currently, many citizens harbor low expectations in terms of government leadership. Most officials are too small-minded—trapped in short-term agendas—to think big, much less wisely.

Nonetheless, a few modest efforts have caught attention.

Joe Manchin, a Democrat frustrated by Obama and gridlock, decided to keep his Senate seat, though he considered stepping down after 2016. He hangs on to the hope that centrists from both parties will have a shot at repairing the crumbling infrastructure. He also dreams of instituting realistic laws and new interventions to combat the nation’s drug epidemic. Manchin would not mind seeing the departure of Harry Reid, the minority leader.

In late May, a bipartisan committee in the Senate proposed a bill that would allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to grow its science programs by 4 percent per year for the next five years. (The House passed a new America COMPETES Act* along party lines. It includes 10 percent cuts in environmental research at the DOE and the Advanced Research Projects Agency‐Energy.)

When Republicans reclaimed the Senate last January, Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, was mindful, indeed practical, that his party would get results if they worked with moderate Democrats. “We’re going to be getting a report card very quickly from the American people regarding how we are able to legislate.”

Each side thinks it has the moral high ground. However, it might be fruitful if both reexamine their rhetoric and prejudices. The first step to leadership entails reasoned, informed debate, not backbiting. Only then can government officials tackle major issues.

Decision 2016: is there authentic leadership? The public is in for a wild ride. Whether Republican or Democrat, good luck to anybody who thinks down the middle.

*Complete text to H.R1806—America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015

The Daily Post Prompt: “Dear Leader


      1. lifelessons

        Glad you did. I’ve been writing daily to The Daily Prompt for 13 months now. They are not always topics I want to write on, but it is surprising what they bring out if I don’t resist them. Good luck. Judy

      2. Bea dM

        hah! I noticed you were doing the Daily prompts, and I’m curious to see the total overall effect in a few weeks, ’cause these are different and indeed not typical of your non-prompt blogs. The latter sounded more like the same person even though the subjects varied

      3. Catherine Hamrick

        That’s an interesting point. Since I broadened themes a little (stick them in Musings category) and tried The Daily Post, I have come across some fabulous bloggers. They are friendly and write well.

        When I write the southern thing, I’ll likely stay in that particular voice.

        Best moment of the week–Cynthia Jobin said I had a “built-in crap detector.” Now that’s a much better term than “editor.” I’m rewriting my resume.

  1. donnaanddiablo

    You are preaching to the choir here, Catherine!! For the life of me, I don’t understand why all of these politicians can’t just put on their big boy pants (and skirts) and reach across the aisle!! It’s the country that we all (purportedly) love–let’s work together to make it a better place instead of digging deeper trenches. Sigh…. L

      1. Catherine Hamrick

        You are so right. How many govts has Italy had? I lost count at 47 in the 1990s. Looks like this young prime minister is bogged down. To Rome with love! Maybe everybody should throw a bunch of lira in a fountain and hope for the best.

  2. Lorna's Voice

    Compromise…it’s not that difficult a word to comprehend. Yet it seems an impossible concept to swallow in nearly any hall of government. Everyone has their own agenda in mind, with the good of the people they represent seemingly the lowest priority in that agenda. It’s all backwards. That’s what happens when politics becomes a career…

  3. John

    This hits the nail pretty hard. In a recent issue of C&EN, congressional leaders (and we know who leads the committees now) were quoted on science topics.
    Unfortunately, science has left the room.

  4. Catherine Hamrick

    Well, the arts and humanities were thrown out of the room long ago. That would include a part of philosophy: ethics. I find that quality lacking in more people these days. It’s nice when a scientist as busy as you are has a moment to drop by.

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