Head To Tail Strategies

Leaders almost always have question when it comes to selecting their policies.  It will be a leader’s policies that lead to specific strategies.   Should the leader select a strategy that he/she expect to work for the next short period of time (and maximize his/her chances to gaining popular support), or should the leader pick one that aims at long term objectives (and run the risk of leaving the public less satisfied)?

The short term approach has distinct advantages in terms of prediction and results.  So much more is known about today than what the future may bring.  Some leaders, however, seem to lack the capacity to imagine the future and are adrift when it comes to forming policies which are by their nature long term.

So, how do short term thinkers, or those who wish to maximize the public’s short term satisfaction deal with long term needs?  One idea is utilizing “head to tail” thinking.

A “head to tail” strategy begins with setting relatively short term goals, and when the “short term’ expires, setting a new, more timely and assumed appropriate strategy, and moving on.  The problem with “head to tail” is that there is no way to assure that a desired long term direction is being followed.  Everything turns out to be what seems right at the time.

Recent reports indicate that President Obama will present a “spending” budget to Congress.  After years of austerity, “sequestration”, and political arguments over a balanced budget, a spending budget seems like a disconnect.  And, in fact, it is a disconnect.  Why?

Political pundits suggest that since the GOP has offered no hope of a “grand bargain” (a political compromise path to reducing the deficit), why should the President continue to offer entitlement compromises?  Why?

Pundits say a spending budget will appeal to liberals, and that feels right at this time.  Hmmm.

There are three potentially serious weaknesses with the Presidents new direction.

  • First, this type of policy will reinforce the “tax and spend” label the GOP likes to place on Democrats.
  • Second, this austerity to spending leads no place, since there will not be revenue to offset the increased spending.    The GOP controlled House will never agree to increased spending and for sure will block any new taxes.
  • Third, a governance process which involves changing strategic goals on a whim is doomed to failure.  Continuity of purpose is key to long term success.

Great leaders and certainly great Presidents all had long term visions which guided their short term tactics.  President Obama’s closest political advisors live in the here and now.  Their advice and counsel is all about the short term.  Unfortunately, adopting the head to tail strategy approach is inconsistent with achieving long term visions.

Admittedly this post is holding President Obama to a higher standard.  Most Presidents enter their first term with only one objective, getting a second term.  Along the way they subjugate their noble campaign goals for short term gains.  And little or no progress towards those campaign goals become unintended consequences.

President Obama should know better.  Even if he thinks his specific proposals are worthy, he has failed us if at the same time, he has not said “I want to cut sufficient waste from existing programs to substantially fund this new policy”.

Surprisingly such an approach would catch the GOP off guard.  The GOP has as yet voiced no governance strategy that encompasses the middle class.  The GOP prefers to cite endless cuts to government spending without describing the end point or the impact their cuts would have on Americans.

I wonder whether the GOP is thinking that a strategy of “cut, cut, cut” today is wise, and following elections, especially if they can capture the White House, a new policy of increased investment (read more spending) would be even wiser?  Maybe “head to tail” thinking is the way of the future.


Explore posts in the same categories: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party

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