The recent debates that led to the shutdown of the federal government have revealed little more than what intellectual pipsqueaks the members of Congress and the Senate can be when they really try. And the president? He remains no leader, but little more than a speech-reader in chief.
Of statesmen — or stateswomen — there are none.
Any idiot can heap blame on another idiot, but it takes a statesman or stateswoman to solve a problem, or to participate in solving it.
“Some men can live up to their loftiest ideals without ever going higher than a basement,” said Theodore Roosevelt, who was a statesman and leader of excellence, indeed. Who in Washington today would be fit to shine his shoes?
“Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big,” Teddy Roosevelt also said of politicians who behaved as the ones under whom we now suffer.
“It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things,” he maintained.
Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican who was governor of New York, among other things, before he became vice president for William McKinley and then president after McKinley was assassinated.
Another Roosevelt, Franklin, a Democrat, also was a governor of New York before he was elected president, and he, too, had much to say about the nature of statesmanship:
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country,” he said, to remind us that if we were saddled with ineffectual or crass political leaders, we have to power to get rid of them.
Maybe it is time to start exercising that power.