Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Progressive Holy Grail: The Next Big Idea

Robert Reich has written a scathing article about President Obama's dereliction of leadership on the debt ceiling crisis which is actually a good summary of Barack's overall leadership style:
Barack Obama is one of the most eloquent and intelligent people ever to grace the White House, which makes his failure to tell the story of our era all the more disappointing and puzzling. Many who were drawn to him in 2008 (including me) were dazzled by the power of his words and insights -- his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, his autobiography and subsequent policy book, his talks about race and other divisive issues during the campaign.
We were excited by the prospect of a leader who could educate -- an "educator in chief" who would use the bully pulpit to explain what has happened to the United States in recent decades, where we must go, and why.
But the man who has occupied the Oval Office since January, 2009 is someone entirely different -- a man seemingly without a compass, a tactician who veers rightward one day and leftward the next, an inside-the Beltway dealmaker who doesn't explain his compromises in light of larger goals.
In Amity Shlaes' book, The Forgotten Man, she gives us a detailed account of how FDR and other progressives wandered from one big idea to the next and would seem to support one idea only to abandon it later. Progressives make poor leaders because they're enamored with "big ideas" which usually means more spending, bigger government and a lack of a coherent policy on any issue. That's why progressives are unhappy with Obama because he can't guide the nation towards the next big idea.
This is the Achilles heel of progressivism as a philosophy and as a style of leadership. Vision is where a leader can has a destination in mind and leads the people towards it. But for progressives, they roam from one big idea and when they're done with that idea, they move in search of another big idea. That's not leadership. It aimlessness.
Robert Reich and other progressives desperately want Obama wants to be courageous about his aimless leadership style and get America to rally behind the progressive quest for the next big idea but they're disappointed that he can't do it. 
Obama cannot mobilize America around the truth, in other words, because he is continuously adapting to the prevailing view. This is not leadership.
Mr. Rich is starting to realize the fundamental flaw of progressivism. Its political philosophy that doesn't engender leadership. That's why the President would continuously adapt to the prevailing view on whatever issue that confronts him because its a roadblock on the journey to the next big idea.
Robert Riech and other progressives shouldn't be angry with Obama's aimless leadership style. He's following the progressive leadership model perfectly.

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