Editorial: A hunger for leadership

As Obama begins second term, Americans cry out for action, not stalemate
Jan. 28, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

Elections separate the appointed from the disappointed, so when your candidate loses, it’s hard to generate much enthusiasm for the winner. That’s particularly true when it comes to presidential elections.

Roughly three out of four voters in Sevier County chose Mitt Romney over Barack Obama on Nov. 6. The state was solidly for Romney, as was most of the South. But Obama won re-election, and he remains president not just of those who voted for him, but for everybody else as well.

His approval rating stands at around 50 percent, which is good for a sitting president, but it also means half of the people do not approve. That kind of division faces him and the country for the next four years. When it comes to guns, entitlements, debt, budget cuts, immigration and health care, each side is dug in and ready to fight.

Governing at the federal level has become impossibly difficult. Gone are the days when leaders of opposing sides would meet and talk through differences to reach compromise. These days compromise is a dirty word in Washington, a signal of weakness instead of statesmanship. Thus we have the impasse that grinds things to a halt in Washington, while the rest of the country hungers for true leadership and action.

Second terms for presidents often are rocky. Think George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan. Party leaders have begun to think about who’s going to run in four years or control of Congress in two years. The window of opportunity for a sitting president in a second term is short indeed.

Regardless of your personal or political feelings about President Obama, he does remain in the White House as our leader. How well he does for the next four years impacts all of us, including those who did not vote for him. The last thing the country needs now is a continuation of the gridlock that marks politics in Washington, a refusal by either side to give, to compromise, to reach consensus.

Americans are hungry for leadership, for an end to politics as usual by our elected leaders. The country is weighed down by so many problems, many of which seem beyond solution. Congress acts when things get really bad, when action is all that separates us from disaster.

Let’s resolve to see that strategy end now. It should not be enough to win, to retain or regain power. Americans don’t care who runs the show, they just want the show to end in their favor.

Who will step up and lead? Over 300 million Americans await an answer.