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A Vital Leadership Trend that Isn’t Yet a Thing

by Oliver DeMille

We need a whole new level of leadership. And we need it soon. Just consider some of our pressing national challenges:

  1. 75% of current Americans worry that another recession is coming.
  2. U.S. consumer confidence in June is at a six-month low.
  3. The average price of a gallon of gas in the United States was $3.88 at the beginning of the year and it is $3.48 halfway through the year. Most experts predict that it will be below $3 a gallon by the end of 2012. A few say it will be above $4. Either way, we have a problem. Lower prices look like a positive trend, but they keep us addicted to foreign oil. The pattern is to jack up prices until they hurt so bad that we begin seriously seeking alternative energy sources, then ease back on prices a little until we give up on finding a better way. Then, when we’ve stopped weaning ourselves from our addiction, jack the prices up again. Only the right kind of leadership will solve this for the long term.
  4. President Obama’s support is down since 2008 in almost every voting demographic, but it is up 2 points among Hispanics. Few election experts believe Mitt Romney can win the election—especially in the battleground states—without a significant uptick in Hispanic support. And Romney came across to many as sharply anti-immigrant during the 2012 Republican primaries. Neither 2012 presidential candidate has yet shown the will to establish a truly effective national immigration policy.
  5. The July 2, 2012 cover story of Time Magazine reads: “The History of the American Dream: Is it Still Real?” The Asian, European and South Pacific versions for the same date held an alternative cover story: “Made in China: Why Apple’s Future Depends on the World’s Largest Market.”
  6. A June column in Newsweek calls this year’s graduates “The Not-So-Special Generation.”
  7. Over two-thirds of Americans want the government to use unmanned drones to hunt down criminals, but two-thirds do not want the same technology used to patrol highways and issue speeding tickets. We want more government oversight of others, less of ourselves.
  8. A majority of Americans want the government to decrease spending, but there is little agreement on cutting any specific program.

Many other serious national concerns could be cited, but one thing is certain: We are a nation deeply in need of more, and better, leadership.

Sadly, it appears increasingly evident that our political leaders may no longer be able to fulfill this role.

The story of Barack Obama is instructive on this point.

As a lifetime liberal with long experience and connections in the progressive community, President-Elect Obama took over the White House with big intentions of reframing our national politics into a less divisive, more cooperative endeavor.

He seems to have been surprised at the vehemence of the two-party system, and how quickly the opposing party lined up to get him out of office—regardless of what he did, or didn’t do, as a leader.

President George W. Bush, who came into office with big goals of creating a more compassionate conservatism, faced the same reality—the opposition lined up against him before he proposed a single policy.

Whether you are a supporter of President Obama, a critic, or more neutral, the reality of our new politics is frustrating.

The next president, either in 2012 or 2016, will likely face the same problem.

Welcome to the new system in Washington: A president isn’t judged for what he does as much as for which party he belongs to.

We are a nation with major struggles and we desperately need great leadership, but our political system has reached the point where our top elected officials have little chance of providing such leadership.

The system simply won’t allow it.

The next campaign starts the morning after Election Day, with no break between elections and no sense of a U.S. president we’ll all follow for four years.

Today’s system is more divided: the chief executive is now widely perceived as only as the president of the Republicans or the president of the Democrats.

We are at a crossroads in America.

We need great leadership as much as at any time in our history, but our political system no longer allows it to come from Washington.

We may have reached the point where only an Independent President will be able to get anything done.

Or, another solution may be a revolution of leadership, with leaders rising from other—non-political—arenas.

This may be one of the most important trends of the 21st Century, but it is not yet a trend.

Needed: A generation of non-political leaders to help America get back on track!



odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the founder and former president of George Wythe University, the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.


  1. Excellently put. We truly need a generation of leaders who are identified more for their vision of the future and what they have been able to accomplish, and not for their political affiliation or lack of one.

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