Today, still unfolding as I write this entry, was the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona of 12 people at a peaceful political assembly.Â While details yet remain sketchy and incomplete, it is confirmed that at least 5 people have died, including a 40-year veteran of public service, Federal Judge John Roll, an unnamed staffer of Representative Gabrielle Gifford (D-Arizona) and an unnamed 9-year old girl. Â In addition, Congresswoman Gifford herself, shot in the head at point blank range, has survived but is fighting for her life as are several others currently in surgery.
Moments ago, President Obama spoke to the Nation.Â After my expression of prayers and comfort to all involved, the President’s speech is the focus of this writing.
It is no surprise to any American that we, both nationally and personally, are transiting extraordinary times.Â Divisions are deep, tension high, finances troubling and fuses short.Â In such times, it is our intention that those we look to for leadership, calm, focus and vision provide us the guidance and confidence necessary to move beyond the difficulties involved.
Today in his words following the Arizona tragedy, President Obama missed the markâ€¦ if he was ever aiming for it.
The President expressed his condolences to the victims. In so doing, he erroneously referred to Congressman Gifford in the past tense, although she is alive and fighting for her life.Â He had absolutely nothing to say about violence being an ineffective tool for achieving ends or even words of a calming or encouraging nature.Â His failure to do so is at a time when individuals such as Frances Piven, professor and political activist with access to U.S. Presidents, openly advocate for revolution, and when bullying and violence in our schools have become an epidemic.
Why would our President pass up such an obvious opportunity to reassure the nation and set the standard, at least verbally, for where we as a nation stand on violence as solution for political and social differences?
The answer I see disturbs me.Â Because he doesnâ€™t want to.
The most frequent visitor to this White House in the first two years of this Presidency was Andy Stern, President of the Service Workers International Employees Union (SEIU).Â Stern has said “If we can’t use the power of persuasion we will use the persuasion of power” as a legitimate tool of social change.Â Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO has done the same.Â William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground, a self-described Communist revolutionary group and long-time friend of the Presidentâ€™s is also an advocate of violence as a legitimate means to achieve an end.Â The list goes on.
I donâ€™t think our President wants to seize this or any event to quell the possibility of violence as a means to the â€œchangeâ€ part of Hope and Change he promised. For if violence escalates, the People with turn to government which, through its military and regulatory powers, will be all too quick and happy to intervene.Â In so doing, the door is then open to abridge our basic rights and coalesce power in the hands of a few at the expense of the many.
We are a nation in need of leadership and the man we chose to lead is at a loss to do so.Â I suggest he has revealed his irrelevancy and that we now look beyond him and broaden our search in two directions.
First, that we go within ourselves, the only search worth taking, and look for ways to exemplify the stability, focus, priorities and courage needed in times of change.Â Secondly, that we go in search of quality leadership and this time we not allow ourselves to be distracted and placated by smoke and mirrors, because we lack the personal responsibility and patience to do the hard, investigative work necessary to make such an important decision.
I HOPE the Presidentâ€™s woeful, AND almost negligent, response today to the tragedy in Arizona is the impetus for CHANGE to the Office of President of the United States in 2012.