We need to do better

Published 2:12 pm Monday, August 8, 2011

During the Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt comforted Americans in his 1933 inaugural address by intoning: “First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Less than a decade later, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the voice of his people, bucking them up in the midst of an unprecedented onslaught of Nazi Germany artillery and air raids. “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up,” Churchill said.

President Ronald Reagan rode to a huge reelection victory in 1984 with a campaign that declared, “It is morning in America,” an optimistic theme on the heels of hard economic times and scandals that connected with people on several levels.

Roosevelt, Churchill and Reagan were all charismatic, inspirational leaders on the world’s largest stage. They knew the right words to say and had plans of action to back them up. The people responded.

It would be a stretch to say that America’s current economic crisis is in the same league with the Great Depression or the German Blitz of London during World War II. However, there is no denying that the economy is deep into the tank and sinking further with each day of bad news.

Monday’s stock market plummet on the heels of an historic downgrading of America’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s from AAA to AA+ hit investors in the gut, of course. It also bloodied the noses of people here in the Roanoke-Chowan region and other everyday Americans who have always felt – known – their country was special. Instead, we are beginning to look like Greece, Portugal and other flailing European democracies.

Strong, decisive and inspiring leadership is desperately needed in Washington. Sadly, it is the lack of that leadership among both parties in Congress and in the White House that has helped take us to this dismal point. We must do better. Much better.