Having been on vacation for a week, I am anxious to start writing again. This blog is focused on encouraging leaders to lead well through good management. Good strategy, plus good execution, equals good management. Good leadership, and management, means good relationships: It is business and personal. I will often point out poor management to make a point. The recent fiscal fiasco is horrible management and a terrible violation of the fiduciary responsibility given to our elected representatives within this republic. The partisan one-upmanship attempted by both sides is appalling and will never constitute good strategy or good execution.
Both sides of the political continuum are blaming each other, but you know what, culpability is not at issue here, all of them are to blame. If we want to get a clear sense of the issues, we need to look at what others are saying about us. The Economist is a good place to start. In the article “America’s European moment,” The author compares the fiscal mismanagement that our leaders just perpetrated with the recent Euro debacle. “For the past three years America’s leaders have looked on Europe’s management of the Euro crisis with barely disguised contempt.” The Economist rightly points out the hypocrisy of the situation, and describes how both Europe and US leadership is using a kick-the-can-down-the-road strategy to deal with the huge spending issues they are faced with. Not making a decision is making a decision, and when management does that, the organization suffers.
The Economist rightly points out that, “the temporary fix ignored America’s underlying fiscal problems. It did nothing to control the unsustainable path of ‘entitlement’ spending on pensions and health care (the latter is on track to double as a share of GDP over the next 25 years); nothing to rationalize America’s hideously complex and distorting tax code, which includes more than $1 trillion of deductions; and virtually nothing to close America’s big structural budget deficit.”
There was no Reagan or Clintonian leadership during this fiscal negotiation, and as Peggy Noonan noted in yesterday’s WSJ, there is no “I” in Kumbaya. Both Reagan and Clinton were able to get both sides of the aisle to work together for the good of the country. “Obama doesn’t seem to have it in him to make a deal.” Don’t get me wrong, the fault lies with all of our elected officials, but the buck does stop at the leader. Obama may have won higher tax rates for the more affluent, but he did not win. “His victory didn’t resolve or ease anything, and it heralds nothing but more congressional war to come.”
A moderate US senator made a comment about Obama which I find very interesting. “He [Obama] is a uniquely polarizing figure. One thing not said enough is he is the most divisive president in modern history. He doesn’t just divide the Congress, he divides the country.” I don’t know Obama personally so I can’t say whether this is true or false, but I can, based upon the facts of the moment, recognize that our current political system is highly polarized. Is it more so than other times in our history? Probably not!
When Jefferson was dealing with the Federalist versus Republicanism debate, it was quite divisive, but he was able to bring the two sides together for the good of the country, especially one that had over doubled in size with the Louisiana Purchase. Lincoln led our nation during the most divisive time in our history, but was able to keep us together. I hope Obama wakes up and recognizes that now is the time to bring us together to deal with the cliffs of oblivion, rather than continue to win battles but lose the war, and collectively follow our elected lemmings over the precipice.
And that is my thought for the day!