The Failure of American Leadership

The Failure of American Leadership

Given all the difficulties America has experienced during the Covid19 Pandemic, the last thing we needed was a failure of leadership. Alas, that is what we have gotten. That failure has been mainly in government, but also in journalism, social media, and education. And it shows no sign of diminishing. In fact, every day seems to bring one or more new examples of leadership deficiency. As a result Americans who are by nature optimistic about the future are fearful of what lies ahead. The following facts help to explain why.

Intelligence agencies break the law by spying on American citizens instead of protecting them. The absurd rationale for this behavior seems to be that citizens’ criticism about government programs for increasing diversity makes them more dangerous to America than foreign foes, including those who have pledged to destroy us.

Many elected officials are more supportive of criminals than they are of the police or honest citizens. For more than a year many authorities have not only turned their backs on dramatic increases in looting, arson, personal injuries, and murders in their jurisdictions; they have also taken away the authority of police departments to do their jobs. Moreover, when police manage to arrest criminals, many judges give light sentences or no sentences and release the offenders to continue committing crimes. As if that action did not cause enough mayhem, many elected officials direct their efforts to confiscating the guns of citizens who do not commit crimes. This dereliction of duty among elected officials has hurt poor neighborhoods most of all, not only by taking away police protection and self-protection, but making it more difficult for the residents to obtain food and medical supplies. The same officials then have the audacity to claim they don’t understand why lawlessness is on the rise.

President Biden ended U.S. energy independence as a means of fighting climate change. The President shut down the XL pipeline, taking away 11 thousand jobs directly and many others indirectly, and ending U.S. energy independence. He claimed the action was necessary to save the world from the climate change caused by fossil fuels. But then he contradicted that claim by approving increased Russian and Saudi-Arabian production and distribution of oil, leaving thoughtful people to wonder how one nation’s sacrifice could possibly offset the entire world’s harm to the environment.

Some prominent medical authorities misuse science in the name of following it. For example, Dr. Fauci initially said that masks are useless in combatting Covid, then called them helpful, and finally classified them as essential and added that everyone, including toddlers, should be required to wear at least one and, ideally, two! In addition, when President Trump proposed to speed vaccine development, “progressives” said that even if it could be done, the vaccines wouldn’t be helpful. Eventually, Fauci said science had proved that vaccines are essential. He continued to make this argument even after scientific reports revealed serious reactions to the vaccines, including neurological disorders, among certain age groups. He also advocated that everyone be vaccinated and suggested that the government mandate this. When a growing number of people noted Fauci’s contradictions and decided not to be vaccinated, he blamed their reluctance on their political affiliations.

A number of cities and states discriminate against religion. During the Covid pandemic, some cities and states imposed longer and stricter restrictions on church services than on protests and riots. Incidentally, such bias against religion is not confined to the U.S. In nearby Canada, it took a more violent turn that resulted in the desecration, vandalizing, and torching of dozens of churches. Justin Trudeau waited a week to comment on these crimes and then expressed only mild criticism of the criminals, while one of his close associates called their crimes “understandable.” The official U.S. response to the crimes was no more forceful.

Journalism and social media are ignoring their obligations to the public. For decades many journalists have ignored news stories that challenge their preferred narratives. More recently, social media organizations have banned from their sites individuals they dislike and/or disagree with, thus depriving the public from the knowledge necessary for responsible citizenship. Now, according to Politico, “Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS [Short Message Server] carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.” The Biden administration claims that their goal is to prevent “misinformation and disinformation” from being published. They evidently expect Americans to believe, without evidence, that statements challenging the administration are necessarily false and thus require summary censorship. And journalists, by all indications, agree!

Many, possibly most, schools and colleges have abandoned the traditional view of history. History may be defined as a record of the past useful in making wise choices in the present for the benefit of the future. It has always understood that history is as subject to error as any other human inquiry and depends for its accuracy on the careful gathering and honest interpreting of information. But despite its imperfection, history has been highly valued because, as George Santayana noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” At present, however, history has lost its preeminent place in curriculums. Even worse, a number of people are attempting to erase parts of the historical record that challenge their way of thinking. The same people encourage contempt for the American flag and demand the removal of statues of historical figures, most recently explorers Lewis and Clark and their Indian guide Sacajawea from public display.

Many elected officials support radically changing the Constitution while many others show little or no inclination to defend it.  This is especially the case with such significant guarantees as freedom of speech, worship, and assembly, and the right to bear arms. The same officials have ignored clear evidence of election fraud and refuse to support reforms such as requiring voters to show identification before voting.

The present administration’s immigration policy favors illegal over legal immigrants and, in some cases, over U.S. citizens. Illegal immigrants from Central America and some Asian and African countries need not apply for entry into the U.S. nor prove they are in grave danger at home. They are excused from wearing masks and observing social distancing. In some cases they are allowed to have driver’s licenses and to attend college without paying tuition. Yet these privileges are far from consistent. Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas warned suffering Cuban refugees that if they tried to enter the U.S. they would be sent back, without explaining why their suffering is less deserving of compassion than that of others.

Many schools and colleges sow dissension in the name of promoting unity.  The most dramatic example of this activity is the adoption of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) which teaches that white people are racists and people of color are victims of racism, a lesson that produces mutual contempt and hatred among students. To make matters worse, the adoption of this program has occurred at a time when legions of lower income children have suffered most of all from the closing of schools during the Covid pandemic, and have serious deficiencies in reading, writing, and math skills. Those children have the greatest need for encouragement and inspiration to learn, yet instead are led to despair.

Many of our government officials ignore evidence of social chaos. Evidence of the horrible consequences of lawlessness can be seen in a number of countries, but nowhere more dramatically than in Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa, where chaos reigns: dozens of malls and shopping centers, factories, and warehouses have been looted and torched, the economy has been virtually destroyed, and police are unable to restore order. Yet even as these events have filled  TV screens around the world, President Biden was issuing an invitation to the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate and decide whether the U.S. is a racist countryAs if the invitation itself were not absurd enough, the countries that will make that judgment include China, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela, nations that on good report enslave, torture, starve, and/or murder their own citizens.

These eleven facts not only illustrate the failed leadership that is causing so many Americans to fear for our future. They also reveal, on closer examination, the specific flaws in thinking that are present in most of them. The most prominent flaws are these:

Failure to recognize important distinctions. For example, distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants, peaceful protests and riots, careful analysis and wishful thinking. An even more fundamental distinction than these is that between an idea and the person who expresses it. This one is important because even the wisest person will sometimes be wrong, and the most foolish person will sometimes be right. Ideas must therefore be judged on their merits and not their authors’ reputations.

Failure to anticipate the likely consequences of an action before taking it. For example, the likely consequence that allowing people to vote without personal identification will encourage fraud; that erasing history will make it impossible to learn from past mistakes; that weakening police departments will make honest citizens more vulnerable to criminals; and that making contradictory statements will lead others to suspicion and/or disbelief rather than approval.

Failure to examine what happens after taking an action. This failure can be especially troublesome because it is usually fueled by ego. In other words, we are tempted to believe that any action we take must be wise simply because we take it, and therefore any negative development that occurs later must be caused by someone or something else. Also, because we tend to accept our own good intentions as a substitute for analysis.

Some people see the failure of leadership I have described as a sign of moral decay; others as evidence of corruption; still others, as proof of a plot to destroy our country and replace it with Socialism or Communism. I believe all three of these assessments are defensible. What is more, they are compatible with one another and with my identification of the flawed thinking among leaders.

I believe, however, that my assessment provides a more helpful and potentially effective approach to changing the minds of our leaders and the citizens who support them. Simply said, it is both gentler and more engaging to demonstrate errors in thoughts and actions than to make accusations of immorality, corruption, or subversion.

Copyright © 2021 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved

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Vincent Ryan Ruggiero