Rhonda Cagle

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Looking for Churchill

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I’ve spent most of the morning with one ear tuned into the television. I’ve listened as news anchors have described the free fall of the Dow Jones – listened as political leaders blame each other for the downgrade of America’s credit rating. I’ve listened for leadership to emerge. And after all my listening, I have just one question…

What the hell?!

Is this the best our country can do? And is this what voters are willing to accept?

In watching the debacle that is our current leadership, I’ve been remembering another leader from another era. Winston Churchill was not always a great statesman and leader. In fact, in the First World War, he was responsible for military strategies that saw the fall of Antwerp, the failure of a naval attack in the Sea of Marmara and an attempt to seize Turkish positions on the Dardanelles Straight. This last campaign resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 men and was considered an absolute disaster.

In today’s world, he would have been considered a failure. But Churchill sifted through the experience of what had not worked to discover what would. It was this conviction – and little else – he brought to his nation in May 1940. At a time when Britain’s political leaders were resigned to defeat and ready to sign a peace treaty with Hitler, Churchill offered decisive leadership and action. With these words, he challenged and inspired opposing political parties and a nation to unite and embrace a different course of action:

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war by land, sea and air, with all our might and with all the strength God has given us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”

It was this kind of leadership I was hoping to hear today from our President. It is this kind of leadership our country needs. Instead, I heard the following:

“I know we’re going through a tough time right now. We’ve been going through a tough time for the last two and a half years. And I know a lot of people are worried about the future. But here’s what I also know: There will always be economic factors that we can’t control –- earthquakes, spikes in oil prices, slowdowns in other parts of the world. But how we respond to those tests — that’s entirely up to us.

Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we’ve always been and always will be a AAA country. For all of the challenges we face, we continue to have the best universities, some of the most productive workers, the most innovative companies, the most adventurous entrepreneurs on Earth.”

I don’t want platitudes intended to make me feel better about America, I want leaders who will do whatever it takes to actually make America better. I want real leadership – the kind that sets expectations and won’t settle for anything less than progress and participation from all parties.

Perhaps President Obama should take a page from Churchill. Armed with little more than his beliefs, he spent most of World War II in cramped war rooms. Short on rations and weapons, he single-handedly inspired members of opposing parties and his nation with his courage.

It’s interesting to note that in his cabinet room were chairs reserved for Labor as well as Conservative ministers. In fighting for the survival of his country, he formed a coalition government that hammered out their differences in order to preserve their nation. It’s a lesson the leaders of our nation desperately need to learn.

Our country is in desperate need of a Churchill. But at this point, I’ll willingly settle for a leader.



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