Leadership and the Sequester: Who is to Blame?

We can’t help but measure leadership by results. The sequester cuts are a sign of poor leadership — but whose?

(By the way, if you need a primer on the sequester, here’s a great FAQ guide from the Washington Post.)

the-automatic-sequester_511458b3bde09It’s not a pretty picture. The USA is in crisis — we can’t seem to arrive at common ground, even though we have common interests.

But who do we blame? Obama? Certainly, as the President, he is our most visible and most accountable leader. And his strategy for moving the country forward has worked primarily  to create progress in social and cultural issues. His success in supporting the slow economic growth that plagues this international crisis is less visible.

The sequester can indeed be pinned on him, because he has been unable to lead the divided camps in our government to the common ground that offers transformative solutions. This was his most difficult and important task, and he has not achieved it.

At the same time, the odds against his success have been stacked high and hard. The Republican/Democrat split, which started off stubborn, has turned against the leadership of each party. This is especially true of the Republicans, who since a devastating election have been internally divided, resisting compromise and negotiation even within party lines.

The crisis of leadership that rests on Obama’s shoulders is not his alone. The USA now has a government of subcultures within subcultures, and the people with power are both followers and leaders. Without common ground, the fragmentation of focus that led to the sequestration was probably inevitable.

So who’s to blame? Is it a cop-out to say, “Everyone?” Maybe.

But there’s something about our resistance to claiming common interests that makes that answer as inevitable as the sequestration cuts. And when I say everyone, I don’t just mean our elected officials.

After decades of divisiveness and fear, class divisions, xenophobia, racial tension and cultural wars have only gotten worse. Leaders and followers in the USA and its subcultures are caught in a devastating trap of imaginary self-interest and an inability to listen to each other.

How do we escape this trap? There has to be a way.

You tell me, please! What do you see? Who do you blame? And how can we change this vicious cycle?

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