In his State of the Union address, President Obama, reflecting on his first term in office, proclaimed that we had cleared away the rubble of crisis.
If we closely examine the state of our economy, the condition of our military, the nature of our politics and general mood and spirit of the American people, we have not emerged from the rubble. We are a nation that still finds itself in the path of crisis.
More than four years removed from the economic collapse of 2008, we remain a country where the unemployment rate stands at a level far greater than that of before 2008, as millions of Americans continue to struggle to find work, while millions more are underemployed or have given up on the pursuit of employment.
Our troops remain gathered on a war front that has witnessed thousands of American deaths and has brought our nation into the longest-standing conflict of our nation’s history as we have earnestly but futilely tried to build and restore a nation state that resists our efforts and resents our continued presence. This against a backdrop of other nations that pose a growing threat, both in North Korea and Iran, with nuclear possession and ambitions, to the security of United States and her allies in the region and throughout the world. There is potential, against an overcommitted military and a nation increasingly not having the resources to play as a world power, for an emerging series of foreign policy crises.
And, at home, we are witnessing the continued struggle to bring our nation’s fiscal house in order as a series of budgetary crises, both real and contrived, has tested the will of Congress and the administration to come to terms with an economy that has not in full measure recovered from the depths of the most severe recession since the end of World War II.
Yet as we consider all these matters, the most serious crisis, perhaps, set against the backdrop of continued political wrangling of all stripes in Washington and the continued failure of committing to the task of strengthening this nation, is the crisis most enduring and profound – the crisis of leadership, or most accurately placed, the lack of leadership, seen from the White House to Capitol Hill to the canyons of Wall Street and beyond to the boardrooms of our nation’s largest companies.
We have not seen an end to our nation’s various crises, and there clearly is a need to clear the rubble.