02/10/07 — Try leading: Too many in Congress prefer to criticize than offer solutions

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Try leading: Too many in Congress prefer to criticize than offer solutions

Over the next few months, you will hear it loud and clear — pretty speeches against partisanship and talk of cooperation and open debate.

The subject matter will change. You will hear those sentiments associated with everything from the future in Iraq to providing health care and Social Security reform.

Both parties will say they are trying to forge a new cooperation to get something done in Washington.

It ought to sound familiar. We hear it every year.

The problem is that in application it simply doesn’t work — or those who are promising to promote open debate don’t really mean it.

More and more in Washington, the speech writers are being kept busy. Many politicians have a script for what they should say and what they think their constituents want to hear.

It is not until they are asked off the cuff, or pinned into a private conversation, that you hear what they really believe and what they really intend to accomplish.

And that makes them more like personalities than leaders.

It is easy to stand up and say you are against something and to point out all the mistakes that have been made. Perspective is perfect when you look from a few yards out.

It is much more difficult to come up with your own proposal for improving a situation or a roadmap for how you would decide where to go next.

And these days in Washington, there are a whole lot of people who are good at pointing fingers, but not so good at being leaders.

Sometime this week, there will be a vote on the war in Iraq. It will be non-binding and it will do little more than express more disapproval for the president’s policies there.

What it will not do is set a course for the future. And that, more than another round of bashing, is what we really need now.

Debate is good. It keeps our nation strong and open to differing opinions and perspectives. It is also a hallmark of the freedoms we enjoy.

But there is a difference between grandstanding and contributing substantive information to make a change that benefits the future of this country and its citizenry.

Listen to the debate, but more importantly, keep your ears open for ideas. Look for leaders, not bandwagon-jumpers.

It will be in those words that this nation will find its future.

Published in Editorials on February 10, 2007 11:23 PM