LETTER: It is time that we demand more from our leaders and from ourselves. Be the example.

Submitted by Sage Withrow, Greenwich

January 6, 2021 will forever be remembered for a complete and utter failure of leadership. Responsibility rests in large part with the President. At nearly every opportunity since November 3 he has opted to increase the tension in our political system rather than diffuse it. He has taken legitimate worries around the integrity and structure of our electoral system, which were undoubtedly exacerbated by the pandemic, stripped them bare and reshaped them in the service of his own ego, all while doing precisely zero to actually resolve the issue.

When the concern ceases to be about protecting the process and the credibility of our institutions and instead focuses on assuring a desired result it loses all basis. Unfortunately, this outlook is but a microcosm of our national leadership and it is without regard to party. As a body politic we love to sing loud about the importance of having #honestconversations, however, at nearly every level we have forgotten that part of a conversation is listening. But who wants to do that when they can bathe in the delight of a reverberating echo chamber that solves zero policy problems but celebrates someone’s ability to #OwnTheCons/#OwnTheLibs? That “defriending” is actually a verb in common practice, particularly as it pertains to a “friend’s” political opinions, is an indictment of the culture we have created.

While destructive to our private lives and friendships, this attitude becomes particularly caustic to our national fabric when it pervades our elected leadership. It is well past time that our leaders lead. What does this mean in practice? Primarily, it requires a willingness on the part of elected officials to tell the truth or at the very least not lie. (E.g. The 2020 election was very close. President Trump lost. It was conducted in a unique fashion due to the pandemic. Voter fraud took place albeit in insufficient numbers to alter the result.) To borrow from Edmund Burke, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.

The President’s behavior is the latest and worst example in a long line of political leaders of every stripe unwilling to display any modicum of judgment. This is not meant in any way to diminish the magnitude of the errors the President has made in the aftermath of the election: If one must point at someone else’s behavior in order to justify their own, they are without standing.

It was abhorrent and unacceptable and should be treated at such.

It is time that we demand more from our leaders and from ourselves. Be the example.