And A Little Child Shall Lead Them...

This piece was originally published on the older ePluribus Media scoop site on Sat Nov 24, 2007 at 12:07:25 PM EST, in addition to several other locations. I was unable to post it here at that time. I am now remedying the situation; relax. You are not experiencing deja-vu if you saw this article before.

A famous US patriot once said "These are the times that try men's souls." At the time, he spoke of the events and circumstances surrounding the birth of a nation destined to be defined by the rights and freedoms of the people; a nation led by government of the People, by the People and for the People, where leaders could inspire the People to stand united in spite of differing opinions or particular religious influence.

The advent of the twenty-first century has marked the most severe departure from our founding principles than ever before. We stand on the brink of self-immolation, leaderless and adrift, while selfish, arrogant hypocrites steer our ship of state toward the shoals.

Should we fail now to grow resolute and united in our determination to right this ship, we fail not only ourselves but our children, and their children's children.

It is time to look to those children for inspiration and a reminder of what we, as adults, are tasked with as parents and guardians: to create and foster an environment where children can grow to adulthood, secure in the knowledge that we have passed along the best models for ethical leadership and responsible stewardship of this nation that we know how.

:: ::

And a little child shall lead them

On Tuesday, September 6, 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an article appeared in the New York Times about a curious band of refugees that walked into a Baton Rouge evacuation point: six children, comprised of five toddlers following a six year old boy carrying a five month old child:

They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.

Leadership, in action, during a time where the adult leadership of the nation was focused on trying not to appear wholly incompetent.

They failed.

In times of crisis, a nation needs to have faith in the capacity of its appointed leaders to step in and guide them safely through. Taken in that context, our "leaders" have not simply failed -- they have failed miserably, to the point where we can no longer think of them as "leaders" at all: that was the turning point where a more critical, if jaundiced, eye was cast upon their actions, and their carefully-constructed façade began to crumble to dust around them.

They were brutally upstaged by the simple competence of a small child.1

Those self-same leaders, who proclaim their compassion for fellow citizens and their love for children, ardently oppose abortion rights for women -- and equally oppose providing insurance for millions of uninsured children. They claim to support scientific research, but stand firm against fully embracing stem cell research while hypocritically claiming successful justification of their idiocy by pointing at the work of foreign scientists -- scientists who are forging ahead in the field, while our own endeavors flounder here at home.2

Where have all the (adult) leaders gone?

In the year 2007, that question has been asked repeatedly, with growing emphasis. An eighty-two years old businessman by the name of Lee Iacocca even wrote a book with a very similar title: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?3 In order to find out where to look for leadership, and how to recognize it, we should take a peek inside the cover. The opening passages of the book alone should have sounded a clarion call to the would-be and wanna-be leaders of today:

I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies.

Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions.

Iacocca shouts out that he'd love to sit back and let the youth lead the charge against the encroaching apathy and ongoing destruction of our nation, but the youth is currently distracted and disillusioned. Our children and our young adults -- by far one of the bigger factions of the public -- don't trust our politicians to represent their interests; he doesn't blame them for this, but wants them to wake up and realize that only by standing up and participating in the system can they hope to change it for the better. He laments that we have created "a hell of a mess" and must all pitch in to clean it up.

So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense?

Those people are the ones who appear to be missing in action. Our Congress holds the responsibility to bring oversight and accountability to the workings of the government, particularly the Executive Branch;

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

[...snip...]

You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play.

We all have a role to play. We need our Congress to play its role and to actively put the wayward Executive Branch back on track. We ourselves need to drop the veil of false civility and inject the righteous anger and frustration of our national plight into the public discourse -- it is no longer time for political correctness, it's time for political correction.

A Child's Lead and a Childish Leader: Political Correction vs. "Politically Correct"

The legacy of the Republican Party of this day and age can be summed up in the person of their de facto creation: George W. Bush, and the malAdministration that he leads. Juxtaposed against pretty words carefully calculated to say one thing while supporting the opposite, the legacy of Bush Republicans is one of malignant deceit. They claim support of science, yet undermine any research that doesn't support their politics in spite of the harm to the public or to national security. They claim to be strong on national security, yet gut the programs that would most help the nation and provide true security in order to prop up failed adventures as "successful" -- all the while causing more harm than good. They loudly insist that they have created a better, stronger system for education while creating a system where states and schools are practically encouraged to misreport statistics in order to continue receiving funds. Is are children learning became a national embarrassment, along with the memorable phrase Childrens do learn,4 both brought to the forefront of national discourse by the ignoble head of the Republican Party and purported "leader" of the free world. Bush Republicans also support and extol the virtues of misnamed national policies like The Clean Air Act or Healthy Forests. These morally bankrupt hypocrites claim their support of severe restrictions on embryonic stem cell research helps children and credit research by others in another nation as evidence of their argument, and they aggressively push for war in the name of peace.5

It is a legacy of deceit, denial and dissembly.

It's time we stood tall and dropped the false cover that political correctness provides to those who excel in prevarication. We need to be direct. We need to be forceful. We need to be blunt.

We should follow the lead of a child.

Here's an enhanced closeup, as immortalized by marymary of MichelleMalkinIsAnIdiot:


The child appeared to be imitating something she had seen -- probably more than once -- when associated with the man standing in front of her. But unlike the parent who quickly and gently hid her action from view, the child's gesture demonstrated exactly the type of blunt, direct and peaceful confrontation that our adult selves have been sorely deficient in. Fortunately, it is a deficiency that is not complete.

Indeed, some Americans have already figured out that the best way to confront the hypocrisy is to visibly challenge those most responsible for it. In this clip, Richard "Dick" Cheney has his own words from the Senate floor (June 25, 2004) quoted back to him in the aftermath of Katrina, when the Bush officials finally decided it was safe to attempt a few photo ops:

Another adult who stood up to the Bush Administration, directly confronting Bush with dignity and grace, was Harry Taylor, a man who is now running for Congress:

These occurrences are, however, too few and far between. In the interest of our national well-being and the future of both the nation and the children who have lent us the temporary custody of it, we have to do better. Congress has to do better. Our next President has to do better. The current crop of ethically challenged and fiscally irresponsible Republicans know that if they are confronted -- if the people begin to stand up and demand answers, criticizing the constant stream of noxious nonsense that is being spread thickly over the landscape -- then they will lose their grip on power. They know they will likely lose billions in ill-gotten gains. And some of them, if we are truly diligent in our pursuit of truth and justice, may just end up in jail. They know this, and they are striving to push back against it. They have stooped so low as to repeat and augment the Nixon-era's challenge that "if the President does it, it's legal" -- they even attempt to quiet dissent by challenging it with the language of treason, while in actuality it is their own actions that betray the nation and her people.

We, the People of the United States of America, need to ensure that this happens. If not for ourselves, then do it for the children. They're watching us, and will learn from our mistakes as well as our successes -- but shouldn't we try to demonstrate how much better it is to chalk up successes in the fight for freedom and democracy?

Investigate. Impeach. Convict. Remove. Indict. Convict. Imprison.

Set an example; throw the bums out, try them in accordance with the law, not in a kangaroo court, and when they are justly convicted ensure that they are justly imprisoned.

Namaste.

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Notes and Additional Video Support:

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1. Children have made headlines even more recently as enfants provocateurs (h/t Reason Online via Dawg'sBlog). From News24, an African online news source, comes this story on June 21, 2007:

Cops charge 3-year-old 'rioter'

21/06/2007 13:44 - (SA)


Patna, India - Police in India have charged a three-year-old boy for allegedly leading a group of rioters and firing at security personnel, the toddler's uncle said on Thursday.

[...snip...]

This news, of course, comes on the heels of a story from the previous month, detailing that charges were dropped against a six year old boy who was accused of molesting and assaulting a woman in her thirties, again in India.

Those kids in India...gotta watch 'em every minute. ;P

2. When Pigs Fly by DarkSyde of DailyKos.

Mr. Spinmeister neglected to mention a few key facts in his apologetic zeal to lay the wreath of discovery at the feet of George Bush. To make a a skin cell behave like an embryonic stem cell, a couple of things go without saying: you’d have to know what an embryonic stem cell does. It would be damn helpful to have worked with human cells, particularly skin cells and embryonic stem cells. And that might be an obstacle if you happened to live in a country where having the latter is an expensive, over regulated pain in the ass specifically because of the unpopular policy of a certain unpopular President. Which may explain in part why this breakthrough occurred in Japan.

3. Iacocca, Lee and Catherine Whitney. Where Have All the Leaders Gone?; New York: Scribner, 2007. ISBN 1-416-53247-1. Citations and initial link in the piece above via Snopes.

4. This DailyKos diary by buffalo provided a most excellent and relevant YouTube video containing two key clips of education-related Bush malapropisms: George W. Bush: Childrens do learn!, posted 28 September 2007:

5. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Etc., etc. From
Always Tell the Truth, posted by TileNut on April 16, 2006.

Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A special "Thank-you" and h/t JeffW for his inspiration via the comment he made Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 12:52:10 PM EST. That's where I got the idea for this piece. Thanks, Jeff!

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Comments

At a time when the most democratic of tools are available to educate and inform, they are used instead to further personal agendas. Unified in theory, but not in fact, the "progressive diaspora" turns out to be just another very large group-of-groups unwilling and unable to weave a movement from separate topical strands.

We have the right to generate a unified force for change, but not the ability.

What do you see as the major inhibitors toward developing that ability -- are there clear-cut obstacles, and would that mean that there could be clear-cut solutions?

Much of the infrastructure is built, it's the coordination mechanism that's missing. Like the early days, what the movement needs is a "clean" index.

Sorry that I used the term "progressive movement". That is just another fiction. There is no progressive movement.

One of the lessons that I learned in the corporate world is that it is possible for a group of small, aggressive, independent businesses to come together and kick butt in competition to mega-corporation globalizaiton. This works because everyone has a common goal, increasing their respective businesses.

In the world of politics, we see that same movement toward a networked group of coalitions, members shifting as the needs change, trying to come together to achieve political ends. This has not worked because these groups do not have a common goal, or unifying thread other than the enemy of my enemy if my friend.

If, by not having the ability, you mean not having similar goals, or at least a sense of shared values, then it will never be a unified force for change.

Wes Rolley
Co-chair: EcoAction Committee, Green Party of the United States

Wes Rolley
Co-chair: EcoAction Committee, Green Party of the United States

I see the same effort by small groups to create networks, none of which has thusfar produced a set of agreed-upon principles, much less created specific goals. A long time ago I suggested a means to that end based on Etzioni's MINERVA project.

Engaging the public from city blocks to national referenda, one week and one issue at a time, has the potential to nail down those specific goals.