Where Have all the Leaders Gone?

09.01.09 | Dr. Stephen Coleman | Comments[10]

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All too often the politicians we send to Albany, Harrisburg, and Washington are more concerned about following the party line, playing it safe, or blindly following the polling numbers than they are about leadership and doing the right thing.

Witness the lack of leadership, the mayhem, and the gridlock this summer in Harrisburg, in Albany, and in our nation’s capital. Perhaps it’s time for elected leaders to follow their conscience and to be willing to do the right thing -- even when it is unpopular.

Such is the case with a courageous Congressman from the 29th District of Upstate New York.  His name is Eric Massa.  This independent Democrat recently caused lots of controversy in his district when he said that he would vote against the wishes of his constituents on healthcare reform if he thought he was doing the right thing.

Well, I congratulate Congressman Massa for choosing honestly and integrity over expediency. I also want to congratulate Congressman Massa for his leadership. Nothing shows leadership more than the willingness to take an unpopular stand...whether on health care reform or anything else.

Americans are sick and tired of mealy mouthed politicians who blindly follow public opinion, the party line, or playing it safe.  Voters elect public officials to exercise sound judgment, exercise independence, and to make the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions…much in the tradition of Edmund Burke, the 18th century British philosopher and member of Parliament.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Empire and Keystone states, it’s time for our leaders to act like leaders and stop acting like children.

On a final note: I invite people to send me their comments. I would like to read more comments from people on the air. Comment below, or send me an email.

cc-wetm - tv- Dr. Coleman also airs commentaries and a public affairs program on WETM 18 Elmira. For more information on these programs, go to wetmtv.com.


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 09.07.09 Jack Johnson commented

I would like to thank Dr. Coleman for his commentary on real leadership. I applaud congressman Massa for having the courage to hold more than 50 townhall meetings on health-care reform. Shame on members of congress like Brian Higgins and Louis Slaughter for refusing to even host a single hearing. It's not fair to their constiguents and I say if they can't take the heat - stay out of the kitchen.

on 09.04.09 Brian G. commented

I absolutely agree with the stand Eric Massa took over the healthcare reform. Most legislative bills are documents that are hundreds if not thousands of pages long. While it might not be possible for even our elected representatives to read an entire proposed piece of legislation, they have a better grasp of what is there than the average voter. Very often, hot button legislation includes other less popular items – items that might never pass on their own merit – that get written into legislation that would seem certain to pass.

There is already more than enough wrong with the healthcare system without making it worse with the wrong legislation. I'm glad Eric Massa has done what he has. Let's fix the problem and not make it worse.

BUT I will not single out politicians and political leaders for being more interested in being popular or following the party line. They are no different from us, the voters.

How many of us fail to do what is right in our everyday lives? How many of us choose "being popular" at work or home versus doing the right thing and not being so liked?

And to further show we are really no better, we in American have a right others around the world are still fighting and dying to have: the right to vote! And yet while many have died for our very own right to vote, typically only a fraction of registered voters cast their ballot on any given election.

How sad it is that we the people don't even partake of our God-given right to vote, and yet we want to sit and complain about those in office. If you go to the book of Numbers and read, you’ll find God didn’t take kindly to a lack of gratitude from unappreciative complainers back then either… a lesson we (including myself) can all learn from.

on 09.07.09 Rachel Moore commented

While normally I agree with your political saviness...I take issue with your commentary about Erik Massa. The freshman lawmaker did not take much of a political leap to say he'd vote NO on the health-care bill. 95 percent of his constiguency would do the same. Massa is trying to have it both ways. He wants to appear to go along with Obama but not offend the voters at the same time. To his credit though, he has been listening to the voters of his district, which I applaud. I love listening to your commentaries on the FLN news at NOON.

on 09.07.09 Adam Gill commented

Erik Massa has been wonderful for our state. He's not going to rubber-stamp whatever the party line is, like his predessor did. Thank you for a wonderful commentary.

on 09.07.09 Tom Watson commented

Congressman Massa isn't doing anything courageous. He's doing whatever he has to to get re-elected. If he were to show real leadership he'd stand up and say no to socialism. That's where this president is taking this country.

on 09.07.09 Bill Squires commented

What do you mean Massa isn't courageous. He's the only member of congress whose actually read the health-care bill and he's had more townhall meetings than any other lawmaker. I think he's shown tremendous leadership and he 29th is lucky to have him as their congressman

on 09.07.09 Jacob Schuster commented

Erik Massa is a blow-hard !!!!

on 09.07.09 Ron Dolorean commented

What we need is for our leaders to act more like statesman, and less like politicians. Unfortunately, the #1 job of lawmakers is to get re-elected so they have precious little time to do anything else - but campaign. I long for the days of old when lawmakers had more humility - genuine humility.

on 09.07.09 Alan Gee commented

Dr. Coleman is right - Erik Massa has exhibited real leadership in this debate over health-care. It takes a real man to stand up for what he believes in. Thanks !!

on 09.09.09 Toby Schrooner commented

Congressman Eric Massa said he would vote for the public option even if 80 percent of his constiguents didn't support it. I wonder if the Congressman would be willing to trade the health-insurance plan he has now - for what the President is proposing. I'd bet donuts to dollars the answer is "NO"