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Hayley Rose Horzepa Headshot

What Makes a Good Leader?

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Former President Bill Clinton really hit his speech out of the park Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention. So many parts of his speech resonated with me and probably a lot of Americans. Though I am a registered Democrat, I am also a writer and try to remain impartial so I can clearly see the point of view from both sides of the aisle. During his speech, President Clinton stressed the importance of both parties working together. It has been difficult for Democrats to find common ground with the Republicans, who have been going to extremes on almost every issue. President Obama's persistence to compromise with them has failed. Despite his best efforts, they are unresponsive. I respect President Obama's relentless attempts to end this partisanship so he can do what is best for the American people, but he has done this to the detriment of the liberals and progressives who voted him into power.

The Republicans repeatedly blocked President Obama's extension of the olive branch. As their obstinacy persisted, this olive branch grew into an olive tree and my disillusionment grew with it. On Monday, during his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Senator Harry Reid reminded us that at the beginning of his presidency, the Republicans in Congress made it their goal to ensure that President Obama would be a one-term president. During his time as president, the Republicans have blocked everything he tried to do and most notably blocked the much needed Jobs Bill.

Not only did these delays waste time and money, but they surely added stress to American families who were already in dire financial situations and experiencing hardships. These acts of blind and selfish obstinacy on the part of the Republicans prevented what we needed the most: progress. It is truly reminiscent of the time and money that was wasted when Kenneth Starr and the Republican Party impeached President Bill Clinton.

Though I didn't like his approach, I respected President Obama's endless attempts at making compromises that ensured both sides of the spectrum would be satisfied. He did this at the cost of his popularity among the liberal progressives who fought hard to get his name out there. There were times when he bent over backwards and offered the Republicans more than he originally wanted to give, but still the Republicans did not compromise. Their inaction ultimately stalled the possibility of an economic recovery and came at a cost to all Americans, both liberal and conservative.

Earlier this year, when I heard this would be a close race, I tried to be open minded and thought seriously about which one of the Republican primary candidates was a choice I could live with should Obama lose the 2012 election.

I live in Connecticut and heard about all the great things Romney did for our neighboring state as the Governor of Massachusetts. He helped secure an efficient health care system, a system that did not produce a deficit. This alone made Romney the obvious choice, especially when opponents like Rick Santorum held disturbing anti-gay and misogynistic views.

I thought back to the time Romney served as Governor: he seemed well-liked by both parties as the Governor of Massachusetts. He seemed to know what he was doing in regards to health care --- something that this country was in dire need of. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Obama lost.

But then things changed. Because of the Republican's staunch disdain and hate of "Obamacare," Mitt Romney hid the fact that he enacted a successful socialized health care program in Massachusetts. And it was likely that he chose to omit his most successful social endeavor because affordable health care was something that President Obama wanted and something the Republicans did not.

How different would things have been if he stood up to his colleagues and said, "Yes, I did create a socialized health care program in Massachusetts and yes, it has been successful."

No doubt that some Republicans would immediately support him and maybe down the road, even more would jump on board. But saying something like that was a risk: a risk he was not willing to take. Instead, afraid to stand up for something he once believed in, he decided that winning over his constituents would be easier if he removed Romneycare from his rhetoric. These are not the actions of a leader. These are the actions of a follower. A leader takes risks.

Recently, a blind supporter of Romney said to me "Running a country is like running a business and I feel that the business person should be president, not a lawyer."

This comment was ridiculous, as it pretty much parroted one of Clint Eastwood's biggest talking points during his "speech" at last week's Republican National Convention. Not to mention, some of the most popular presidents, leaders with the best legacies, were lawyers. One modern day example is President Bill Clinton, a two-term president that everyone wishes they could elect a third and maybe fourth time. Another example is President Abraham Lincoln. Need I say more?

By no means will I dismiss his entire statement as ignorant: perhaps a business owner would have a leg up on running a country. This theory, of course, could not be based on the sole merit that this person is a business owner. One would have to look past the title of "business owner" and see how the person actually runs their company. If Governor Romney plans to run the United States of America in the same way he ran his business, we are all in trouble. It is no secret that Romney made oodles of cash by dismantling plants, the sole income of residents and the center of the economy for many factory towns, and sending the work overseas. He bankrupted factory towns and their residents in order to make a profit in reverse-Robin Hood fashion. What work is left in a factory town once the factory closes?

You may argue that this happens all the time, that many business owners and millionaires go around the country outsourcing jobs and leaving a trail of displaced workers in their wake. I would agree with you on that. However, most of them are not running for president, and Governor Romney is.

It is clear by Romney's actions that he lacks empathy and is so removed from the workers at his companies that he does not care what happens to them. His ignorance reminds me of that reality show Undercover Boss in which the owner or CEO of a company covertly works side-by-side with one of his hourly workers and is shocked when he sees what his employees actually do, how little money they make doing it, and the meager homes they come from.

Do not forget that businesses have a sole purpose and that purpose is to make money. Like Romney, and many of the people who have contributed to this country's debt, these powerful business men and CEOs pocket most of the profit, and pass the expenses on to the hourly worker.

I was disappointed that Obama went against the pleas of other Democrats and continued to reach across the aisle to a group of legislators who have proved to be less than deserving. However, his inclination to do this, despite the desires of his supporters, demonstrated leadership. We may not like it but maybe there is more to it than we can see. Maybe it is part of a bigger plan that he has not yet revealed. We already know he has a great poker face (I certainly didn't see the whole Osama Bin Laden thing coming).

President Obama is a leader and a leader is what we need, not someone who says what he needs to say in order to please whatever target audience he is trying to reach at a given time. President Obama has shown that he is not afraid to take risks, even if those risks may upset his supporters. Looking past my own disappointment, I still believe that Obama has a vision and that, as President Clinton said in his speech, "No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, could have repaired all of the damage he found in just four years. " Like President Clinton, I believe that in order for us to see President Obama bring his vision, the change he promised, to fruition, he must serve a second term.

"Together we stand, divided we fall."

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