Courage to Lead

Our country is in serious trouble.  There will be no easy, short or long-run fixes.  Our government’s credit rating has been downgraded, and that threatens to drive up the rate we will pay for all those trillions of dollars in debt.  Worse, the debt continues to accumulate as Congress recently extended the President’s line of credit.  If President Obama wasn’t so thoroughly irresponsible, we might have expected more, but in the last thirty-one months, he’s given no indication that there will be any consideration of his duty to lead the country.  Instead, he’s turned it into another battleground for partisan name-calling, with the American tax-payer as his economic and fiscal cannon fodder.

Every politician alive likes to be called “courageous,” but damnably few of them ever earn the title.  I think we have at least one such person, and she’s likely our best bet for restoring the country.  In a time when most departments and levels of government were increasing spending while coffers were less strained, Governor Sarah Palin actually cut Alaska’s government spending.  Say what you want about Chris Christie’s courage in taking on the teachers’ unions in New Jersey, but as Sarah Palin herself reminds us, courage is cutting spending not only when you must, but also when you ought to simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Think of the man who confesses the truth only when the consequences of his previous lies are near at hand.  It takes no courage to admit what is by then obvious to all who view it.  It takes far more courage to point to a doubtful future, warn others, many of whom will reject your warning, and undergo the accusations and insults for telling the truth well before it seems to matter to most people.   Last autumn, Sarah Palin stood up to tell you that QE2 would have ugly consequences.  She was pilloried as an economic know-nothing, and she was castigated in every major newspaper in the northeast corridor.  Eight months later, we now know she had been right, but not because those newspapers corrected the record. As she predicted, food and energy prices have inclined sharply, and general inflation is well under way at a pace not seen since the Carter era.  It took courage to take that stand, and to continue to suffer the political pummeling she endured for her stance.  Almost nobody else would tell you the truth, and even many of those who knew participated in the bashing of Sarah Palin.  Under that sort of attack, why would you stand in for a beating while also knowing so few were listening anyway?  The only reason possible is a firm conviction in doing what is right, even when it’s hard, painful, and punishing.  That’s courage.

When Sarah Palin became Governor of Alaska, she had to survive and struggle through a nightmare of crooks and corruption that was in de facto control of the state.  It requires no particular courage to go into a situation like she discovered in the state’s capital and simply play along with the game.  That’s what most politicians do, but Governor Palin would have none of that.  Instead, she went in and cleaned up the mess, any mess, wherever she found it.  As it turns out, this is part of the reason that the 24,000(+) emails reviewed by the media turned up nothing damning: She was simply doing the job that every elected politician is supposed to do.  It takes a good deal more courage to walk to the temple and kick over the tables and wreck the crooked and corrupt interests and actually reform what goes on there.  Most politicians simply join in the plunder, but not Sarah Palin.  She actually did what she said in her campaign she would do, no matter how difficult it might have been.

The Obama disaster has produced a situation that is nearly infinitely more grand in its scale and effects.  The next occupant of the White House will need unwavering courage.  As bad as the situation is, it threatens to worsen, and our next President will need to rally the American people to engage them in taking their share of ownership in the problem.  At present, our most intractable problems are the debt and the entitlement spending that has caused much of its growth.  Our next leader will need to recognize that as much as we must restore the fiscal and monetary aspects of our nation, what will need the most repair is the courage of our people in order to face up to these challenges, some of which will be severe.  Courage won’t be something we’ll be able to claim in moments of bravado.  Families are going to need courage, and communities are going to need it too.  There’s simply no way around the mess we’re in by means of more borrowing, spending, and taxing.  This situation will now require dramatic steps to avoid significantly worse results.  Some people will be quite dis-satisfied.  Some of those will become angry, and possibly violent.  It will take courage to restore order to such a situation, and none of our current crop of potential GOP nominees have exhibited much of it.

The situation we are going to face in the next three to five years is going to become increasingly bleak and dangerous unless we change course.  Congress has effectively stalled the inevitable until after the next elections, with President Obama’s assistance.  President Obama will likely introduce some tepid reforms that will offer no real chance at a lasting recovery, but will certainly make it seem as though he’s doing something.  It will take courage for our next President to do something lasting and substantial.  It will take courage to show the American people how much energy they use, and explain to them the reality: No energy, no growth.  No growth, no productive jobs.  No jobs, no prosperity.  It’s going to need to be as blunt as that, and few politicians have the stomach to deal forthrightly with such issues.

Sarah Palin does, and has demonstrated it before.  This election had better not be so much about economics or finance or health-care or legislation, but about the character of the people who will lead us.  Courage is that indispensable trait without which this nation will not much longer endure.   Knowing this, we’ve got a choice and a mission ahead, and my vote will be for  courage.  The President will need the courage to tell the truth, first of all, and the courage to see it through.  Sarah Palin’s never known another way to govern.  It’s that special something that comes shining through when you examine her record or even the 24,000 emails.  It’s not a Hollywood action-movie courage, but instead the courage of a simpler character, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.   Sarah Palin is Mr. Smith.  She’s that kind of leader.  In less than ten days, the bio-documentary about her, The Undefeated, will become available on DVD and pay-per-view.   If you care about the country’s future, and you have the requisite courage to help restore it, you might want to pick up a copy and learn what political courage really looks like.  In 2012, and in the years to follow, we’re going to need it.

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