Are you as tired as I am of the predictions the commentators have been making about the American government shutdown? I have a suggestion. Do not listen to the predictions. They are all partly correct and most likely incorrect and based on information that is at best suspect. There is no one who really knows precisely what is going on. The more important issue is what has happened to the government of America over the last few years.
The United States has been taken over by an approach to leadership – that of a smart, savvy President who is a liberal law school professor at heart and acts as if he is the model professor, the type who would rather have his students consider ideas and work them through on their own, as any good professor would. He has office hours but rarely reaches out directly to his students. If they want to speak with him his students must seek him out. Despite a contract that specifies full time employment with release for affiliated interests he works about twenty hours a week at his primary job and spends the rest of his time in consultation (read – travel) and contemplation (playing golf on Saturdays). While previous Presidents saw their role as being a mediator, conciliator or just a plain strong arm to accomplish things he sees his role as the idea man and leaves the heavy lifting to others. True he is on call all the time but so are many other people. True he deserves his rest time but not in the midst of crises. True he should negotiate with people he distrusts and have them prove that they can be trusted but he should never be prepared to give up the entire package to others to handle.
It is in the context of this type of professorial President that a greater crisis has developed in the American government. And, it is because of his relative aloofness that a strong Tea Party is log jamming the Congressional works. While I have my doubts about President Obama’s ability to lead because of the limited skill set that professors bring to leadership I have much more serious concern about the Tea Party and their rapidly spreading agenda. Every time I hear about the budget crisis in Congress and the lack of movement and fair approach to negotiations and partisanship that should exist in a working democracy I am forced to take a closer look at the Tea Party. I am distressed but the likes of Paul Rand and Ted Cruz and their boisterous hardnosed ilk. They remind me of anarchists.
I am not an historian. I am a psychologist and I know that behavior is easily characterized and understood as a function of a person in their particular environment. If anarchists are given free reign, if there are no steps taken to contain them, if they are falsely led to believe that they are the only correct approach and do not have to negotiate with a broader view and sense of the needs of others they will become significantly more strident, vocal and demanding. If I am not mistaken this is precisely what happened with the Nazi party in the late years of the Weimar republic when the liberal democracy shifted to a dictatorship and the depression, deflation and unemployment levels rose.
It takes a strong leader to demand that the various factions of a government meet and work through their differences. There has to be a push toward compromise in politics, both big political issues and smaller ones. Republican Congressman Peter King said that “it is Ted Cruz and his ilk (the Tea Pary) that have caused this train wreck.” It takes a President and a House Speaker that are in control to end this anarchy. Without a strong leader that can make the process of negotiating happen the movement toward anarchy hastens. If we are not aware, it can happen again.