The Art of Leadership and What It Means in the 21st Century


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On March 5, 1945 as victory in Europe was approaching in May, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was on his way to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri with President Harry Truman to deliver a speech that would mark the beginning of one of the darkest periods of the 21st century. As the Nazis in Germany were nearing defeat with the help of the Soviet Union, the U.S. was on the verge of winning the Second World War. But then this nation and other free nations around the world faced two choices. It was between preserving and defending the freedom of man against the onslaught of communism or destining the people into a thousand years of darkness. As President Truman sat on the platform and watched Prime Minister Churchill give his speech he said, "An iron curtain has descended upon the continent" in Europe and thus the Cold War was born. The horrors of nuclear war and human annihilation became a real threat to the new world powers to free nations around the world. The times required bold and steady leadership in moment in crisis when the American people faced fear that freedom was really as fragile as glass. Churchill didn't stutter nor was he afraid of what confronted him and this new period of uncertainty. But he was brave at a time when men were brave. Seventy-two years have passed since Churchill lit the fire that started the cold war, but the same leadership is required in today's political climate. We must have the courage as free people to do the hard things that aren't always easy, but do them because they are eternally right.

Today in America we have a President who could never make such a decision or be able to handle a national crisis. I am a registered Republican but I did not vote for Donald Trump because I truly believe he could not make a decision in regards to our nation's men and women in uniform, fight the elements of radical extremism, and he lacked the leadership of a President or even of a Prime Minister. I believe in America's future and I truly believe a leader is someone who believes in it too. Someone who asks their countrymen to not only dream big, but to think bold. To not only do the politically hard things without hesitation, but to do them because millions of people rely on their President to look out for their interests. President Donald Trump has failed to show me in 100 days that he is truly looking out for the American people. When the repeal of the Affordable Care Act bill failed he decided to blame it on the Democratic Party and said if it exploded it was on them. That's people's healthcare you're dealing with and for many that's the difference in living or dying. That's not leadership. Next week this country faces a potential government shut down and the President said he didn't care if there was a government shutdown. That's someone's job that allows them to feed their family and provide for them. When North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan threatening their sovereignty he said a potentially large military conflict is a very big possibility he said it as if it was not that big of a deal. Our men and women in uniform don't deserve a President who destines them to potential death so carelessly. They deserve a strong and steady leader looking out for them and their families.

When General George Washington led his countrymen into battle through revolution across the Delaware River he did it knowing he could very much lose the war to Britain after he had already lost so many battles before. But he did it anyways knowing that this nation conceived in liberty could forge the future when you put your country ahead of yourself. When you realize that what you're fighting for what matters and that freedom and liberty can be universal. In 1864, as Confederate General Robert E. Lee's forces were crushing Union forces as the union was getting ripped apart President Abraham Lincoln didn't just allow this country to fall into chaos because it was too difficult to keep the union together. He pushed forward because he believed that while we may have disagreements they must not replace the better angels of our nature. 620,000 Americans died for their country to preserve this nation's survival. Blood spilt on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam was spilt so that this nation didn't have to destroy itself from within. On March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from it's knees as millions of Americans had their savings destroyed, jobs lost, homes taken away, and their hopes and dreams demolished. He might have done controversial things but he did the hard things at a time when his countrymen depended on him and he soothed the nation with his fireside chats. He looked out for the American people in their greatest moment of need. When President Richard Nixon resigned from office Vice President Gerald Ford not only knew he had to preserve the integrity of the presidency. He had to regain the trust of the American people as communism was infecting Southeast Asia and the economy here at home was souring and suffering an energy crisis. When the nation was stricken with stagflation and high unemployment in the middle of a severe recession and in the middle of a foreign policy crisis President Ronald Reagan stood up to his podium on that cold winter morning in 1981 and proclaimed to the nation that we must not be afraid and that we must believe in ourselves. On a clear crisp September morning radical extremists might have taken 3,000 of our citizens, but President George W. Bush didn't let this nation fall to its knees in horror and fear. He called upon this nation to not fear Islam, but to fear not being able to live our lives as Americans and not defending freedom here and around the world when the peace and security of the world depended on it.

We might not be living in the times of Lincoln or Roosevelt or any of the rest, but we live in difficult times that require steadfast leadership. We must be able again to forge the future together and work towards a better union. We not only require, but we deserve a President who shares these values and I'm disappointed that we don't have one. But what gives me faith is that I know that this country is destined for greatness and that there's nothing that we can't accomplish no matter what we set our minds to because the same country that elected Donald Trump elected Barack Obama. I'm young and care about my country's future. At a time when our national debt is a crushing $20 trillion dollars, radical extremism is on the rise again here around the globe, and the security of the world is at stake in this nuclear age we must be able to think bold and work together. If we don't combat these problems my and the next generation of Americans will be worse off than our parents and grandparents. We must have a President who has the ability to get in the trenches and not tell people what to do, but to share their dreams, a leader who doesn't give into our fears, and a leader who cares for our children's future even when things seem hard. We don't have time for political theater, bluster, or 30 second sound bites lashing out at the media or the opposition. We can't afford it. We require and deserve true leadership in these very uncertain times as what Theodore Roosevelt called being the man in the arena. While I am concerned for my country's future I am not afraid. As an American I refuse to believe that this nation is all of a sudden too small for big dreams. I have big dreams and so do millions of other Americans. They must not be afraid or lose hope because I know this country has the ability to change for the better all the time and that's truly what makes America great.

Patrick Murray's picture
Patrick Murray