As Election Day approaches, two-thirds of Americans feel that voting is the best way to rectify the nation’s current “leadership crisis,” according to a survey published by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and political consulting firm Merriman River Group.
The poll, called the National Leadership Index, showed that 69 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. faces such a leadership crisis. While public confidence in leadership has risen, it remains below average on the scale designed by the Center for Public Leadership.
“Any time you see an increase in confidence in our leaders, it is encouraging,” the survey’s lead author Seth A. Rosenthal said in a press release. “At the same time, a vast majority of Americans believe we have a crisis in leadership and that we will decline as a nation unless we do something about it.”
The survey, which collected data regarding various sectors of American leadership, revealed that the public holds above-average confidence in only military and medical leadership. Confidence in Congress and Wall Street was almost in the “none at all” range, with Congress holding the lowest rating.
“I think the thing that may reflect somewhat on the election is confidence in leadership in business, the only sector that went up among liberals, conservatives, and moderates,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal attributed the increase in confidence in business leaders to improved unemployment numbers, nothing that the data for the survey was collected in September, before October’s worsened unemployment rates were announced.
Derek J. Bekebrede ’13, president of the Harvard Republican Club, said that he thought President Barack Obama’s failure to utilize the Democratic Party’s large majority in Congress during the first half of his term may be a reason for low confidence in executive leadership.
“Congress is the bottom of the barrel, and the executive is down there,” Bekebrede said. “You have a lack of comprehensive solution coming from the current administration.”
But Adan Acevedo ’13, president of the Harvard College Democrats, showed confidence in the nation’s political leadership.
“Overall, we have amazing leaders both in Congress and in the Executive Office,” Acevedo said. “Individuals who find it their mission to block the agenda of the president [are] not showing the leadership we need.”
Despite their divergent stances, both Bekebrede and Acevedo agreed that voting could improve whatever leadership crisis the nation may suffer from.
“Voting, yes, is the best way to fix it—really the only way to fix it,” Bekebrede said.
Letters to the EditorThroughout this century and the last, progressives (and others) have fought to give tangible weight to the rights described in the Declaration of Independence. The recent fight to provide every American with basic health care, including access to contraception for women, embodies this same spirit.