What’s Next

More and more the press is acting as if President Obama has finished his term in office. This morning in an interview with Senator Tim Kane of Virginia, he was asked to briefly summarize why he supported Hillary Clinton for the next President. Kane’s response was brief. He said Hillary was the most qualified person to become President.

The interviewer pressed further, asking isn’t there some goal you would want her to pursue (as if the goal, like putting Americans to work) should be the reason to support? No, Kane said the main reason for supporting her was that she was the most qualified.

In many ways this captures the malaise America finds itself in. With all its resources and wealth, America seems to have no place it wants to go and no damaged principles it wants to correct. I wonder whether this is the evidence of a nation’s decline or whether it is the natural outcome when the media over saturated a population with “dead end” or “unachievable” goals and ambitions?

President Obama or any future President should differentiate between means and ends. President Bush was guilty of conflating means and ends. Once the “W”-Administration was sure of what its goals were, it felt free to use any means to achieve. Regrettably, some of that thinking appears to have spilled over to the Obama years too. But there is a huge difference which Americans should demand between ends and means.

Great leaders generally choose just a fews goals (ends) because most of us can only process a few. The means, however, necessary to achieve a set of goals should not be the focus of discussion.  This allows future open discussions with all groups and political parties on preferred means.

For example, Hillary could set goals like “rebuilding the American workplace where good paying jobs were plentiful for all who wished to work hard”, or “seeking to build a global marketplace where American products and services were fully competitive and were accepted based upon their merits”.

All to often, candidates lead with their chosen “means”, for example government aid for retraining, or anti-discrimination initiatives, or free-trade treaties, or even worse, promises to reduce taxes as means to achieve some unstated goal (other than to revitalize America).

Hillary has not said she will run, and has not indicated what her priorities as President might be. In all likelihood, her political advisors will lead her to some “safe ground” in any aspirational statements. Less is more will be the watch words.

President Obama’s term is very illustrative on how great intentions can be blind sided with everyday realities. The GOP will do its best to block any Hillary initiatives just as it has with President Obama. World events will just as unpredictably disrupt the best laid plans. And personal leadership foibles will hamper a President Clinton (as with President Obama) from some possible goals too.

But wouldn’t it be great to have some inspiration at the top?

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

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