Campaign 2012 is everything but monumental. It has an incumbent running for reelection, and his popularity is in question. There are challengers who all want the job and who are all saying the same message, but acting as though one’s decision is better than the others.
There seem to be only minor questions regarding the candidates’ backgrounds, but these are hardly valid.
Not even the issue of a black candidate, a barrier broken by the president upon his victory in 2008, will dominate the headlines save for a few radicals. Taking this into account, this will be a campaign dominated by the problems that are affecting Americans today.
This should not be mistaken with my last column regarding whether or not the candidate will focus on the issues. There is no guarantee what they will do. But, it will be the American voters who decide who will lead.
To me, leadership is a topic that is far more abstract than the other concepts of United States politics. As you may know, I have identified where I stand politically. But I can admit that I have also been fascinated with the leadership qualities of presidents whose views were almost no where close to mine.
Personally, I have this habit of looking into history when I want to find an answer to an obscure question. The president that comes to mind first is Franklin D. Roosevelt, because there was not much that we share together, ideologically speaking. At the same time, it isn’t hard for me to admit that he had tremendous austerity to bring the American people together and back to life. This is all too clear, that even I could have seen myself pulling the lever for Roosevelt once or twice.
The other president hard for me to admit is Ronald Reagan. Like FDR before him, Reagan ran for president when Americans were losing confidence in their country. Reagan should have been an unlikely choice, but his right-wing political stances seemed to fly over the heads of supporters who were far from conservative. Once again, Americans felt the need for a strong leader during turbulent times.
Now we find ourselves in another predicament. The country is once again in financial instability, and nothing is too bright abroad. This year, the vast majority of the American voters want to find a way to make ends meet. In that case, they will be asking themselves who gives off the strong leadership persona? Four years ago, a majority thought that Barack Obama did.
For some voters, this may remain true in November, while others probably believe that his ship has sailed. Then there are the two Republicans, Romney and Gingrich. As I have observed, both of these men have some attributes of good leaders, but not enough to be outstanding.
Gingrich has the passionate fire to stir up crowds with his knowledge of conservatism. Romney is less adept to this. But he bears a mature coolness associated with a president, which may be the reason I have heard older Republicans say he looks like a president.
Unfortunately I must say, none of these three candidates have fully demonstrated the “leadership” qualities that many Americans crave. Hopefully, for their sakes, the candidates can find a way to generate this image before November.