The 2016 US Presidential Election takes place at a time when the United States, as well as the rest of the world, faces mounting crises built on deeply entrenched issues that have been treated with inadequate “solutions” and kick-the-can-down-the-road policies. As the leader of the world’s most influential nation, the next US President will play a critical role in shaping the future of the United States and the International Community. Unfortunately, essential leadership skills, including the ability to take responsibility for one’s decisions and actions, appear to be lacking in both the Republican and Democratic Nominees.
Not only does Republican Nominee Donald Trump explode into a tirade of abusive, personal attacks without considering the consequences of his slander remarks on a regular basis, his now defunct “Trump University” is the subject of numerous fraud complaints. He has chosen to lash out against the federal judge overseeing the case while he has seemingly threatened to abuse his power as President to solve his legal troubles. Although the legal system punishes people for taking responsibility for specific wrongdoing, i.e. lawsuits, showing some humility and recognizing some kind of wrong, or mistake, was done is a leadership essential.
Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton appears to feel exempt from taking responsibility for her mistakes and wrongdoings, which is made evident by the FBI’s investigation into her use of personal email servers during her time as Secretary of State. The FBI may not have felt Hillary committed a crime worthy of prosecution, but she did make mistakes. Handling sensitive and secure information in such a careless fashion as Hillary did would result in most Americans paying a massive fine and/or serving years in prison. The FBI has bought itself leniency under a Hillary Clinton Administration as it seeks to expands its powers, yet it has thoroughly failed in its mission to enforce the Law without regard to socioeconomic standing.
Clearly, the FBI has to be careful when investigating a political candidate in order to avoid being used a political pawn, yet a leader like Hillary needs to be held to a higher standard. Even if Clinton is not legally culpability for her mistakes, she still needs to take some kind of responsibility. The adultery of her husband is likely a painful subject for the Democratic Nominee, yet Hillary Clinton should take a lesson from Bill’s handling of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Once Bill Clinton was absolved from legal culpability for lying under oath about his sexual relationship Lewinsky, he made a public apologize and begged for forgiveness. Political revival Newt Gingrich did not for his infidelity. Clinton left office beloved; whereas, Gingrich is still hated by many. Hillary needs to be less like Gingrich and more like Bill.
Beyond the Presidential race, and even politics, there has been a long brewing trend in our society to shirk personal responsibility for all of our woes by blaming other individuals, society, and anything that might impact us in a negative way. It has become common practice to simply throw up our hands and profess a given situation is beyond our control, no matter what we do, or did. There is even a tendency to profess our intentions to take responsibility then backpedal without honest self-reflection. A lack of personal responsibility, in turn, undermines our communities and society in ways that hurt generations to come. There is also a tendency for influential individuals, who are government, business, and community leaders, to disavow their responsibilities in hypocritical pursuits as they insist others take personal responsibility.
When political, business, and other community neglect, or reject, their responsibilities to our society, problems go unresolved and crises metastasize into catastrophes. Working hard and acting responsibly in general means little in a world where the most powerful, more successful do not. One role of government is to ensure individuals and businesses take personal responsible for their decisions and actions. It is, however, the responsibility of individual citizens to demand responsible government through democratic participation and civil engagement. This means our society must hold our leadership to higher standards and demand they take personal responsibility for their decisions as leaders.
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