President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat, made the difficult call of releasing nuclear weapons upon Japan, which brought an end to World War II. President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, invested heavily in our nation's defense, believing that a decisive United States would send a clear message to the world and hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.
President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, understood the importance of the State of Israel and solidified a military alliance with the nation that remains to this day, against strong opposition from the State Department and the Pentagon. President Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican, was the General of the Union Army who helped to win the Civil War and brought the country back together after many thought it was permanently torn apart.
These four men all represented different ideologies and opposing parties and yet all four possessed leadership and the ability to make tough decisions for the sake of our country when it was required. When they spoke, people listened and when they acted, America followed.
Today, this type of leadership does not seem to be a part of the job description of President of the United States. It has taken a backseat to the dazzle of stadium-filled speeches and the Hollywood social scene. The advent of blogs and TMZ has only made the situation worse, with the media focusing more on what celebrity the president is cozying up or restaurant he is visiting, rather than important issues such as sealing our borders from terrorists or rebuilding our struggling economy.
Somewhere along the way, our nation lost its focus. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, of which honesty, respect for life, and a strong work ethic are paramount and yet those values seem to be slipping away from our leaders. Americans are expecting less and less from our elected officials, which is evident by Gallop's most recent poll showing the President's approval rating at 42 percent. Congress fares even worse with an approval rating of 11 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.
This is not a partisan issue. There have been Republican and Democrat Presidents who have led our nation through difficult and dark times. They made the hard decisions that were necessary to protect this nation and whether you agreed with their politics or not; when they came before the people, they commanded our attention and respect. The next President must be willing to lead the nation and not lean back and let the polls dictate his or her decisions. Instead, he or she must follow the examples of Reagan and Grant; Kennedy and Truman and must do what is right for the country.
America is at a tipping point, and can go either over the cliff or in a new direction. We face threats to the American way of life, both here and abroad. The country has accrued the largest national debt in history currently running over $17.4 trillion; over a third of Americans are receiving government assistance; unemployment (the real number) is above 15 percent; and student loan debt (the next fiscal crisis) at $1.1 trillion far surpassing auto and credit card debt, further weighing down our economy.
Overseas, ISIS is threatening the Middle East. Already they control a swath of land the size of New York and Indiana with an army of radical Islamic fundamentalists totaling perhaps 30,000 men and they are only growing stronger. In Eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to ignore the Ukrainian government's sovereignty by invading that country and taking the Crimean peninsula. Putin has also signed extensive trade agreements with China, which only solidifies Russia's security and strength. Both nations are making chess moves that will undermine our position as the world superpower, should they go unchecked. Not to mention that we have to worry about despotic regimes such as Iran and North Korea who are continuing to move closer to obtaining nuclear weapon capabilities.
So where should America look to find a candidate that exemplifies the characteristics of leadership that has served our nation so well in the past? One needs to look no further than our own military, where leaders are trained and tested every day. Twenty-one of our forty-four presidents served in uniform and twelve of them reached the highest rank of general. Military leaders are trained to understand the world; to strategize and make tactical decisions; to see the entire chessboard and to anticipate an opponent's moves. Military leaders understand that one cannot win by leading from behind. The characteristics that serve on the battlefield translate onto domestic matters as well; as previous Presidents have shown.
As the midterm elections draw to a close, the voters of these United States will be focused on 2016 and who the next president should be. The guiding quality for all candidates should be whether they are competent and ready to lead. If there is no clear leader in the field, we will go off the cliff and the United States will be nothing more than a chapter in the history books next to the Ottoman and Roman Empires.