Burden of Leadership – How to overcome COVID-19 in the United States of America

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“How the structure and habits of democratic states, unless they are welded into larger organisms, lack those elements of persistence and conviction which alone can give security to humble masses…”

Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm

The Apollo program which was the USA’s NASA program which was to take man to the moon wasn’t always popular. It was sold as the path to prove to the Soviets that capitalism and democracy triumph over communism. It was always going to be a guaranteed win. It was just a matter of time, money was no object. President Kennedy had given the nation a challenge which was a time constrained challenge, reaching the moon in less than a decade, that is by the end of 1969; time was the problem, not money. A year or two into his gauntlet throwing endeavor, he got skeptical. He was going to throw in the towel and contact the Soviets and propose a joint mission to the moon as a gesture of fostering peace between the two animosities superpowers. It wasn’t going to be a popular idea if and when he pitched it to the public. When President Kennedy was assassinated his Vice-President was sworn in as President. President Johnson was not going to put an end to the Apollo mission, the joint mission with the Soviets never came into fruition. He was going to honor President Kennedy even though the late President was going to put it to rest by following through with his original plan, one the public ate up with a spoon and had energized the American people to show their superior way of life to the communists. The Apollo program was fast tracked and public sentiment while not always supportive came through as it represented a peaceful way to wage war on the Soviets and honor President Kennedy at the same time. Man reached the moon in 1968 and within a year landed on it fulfilling Kennedy’s challenge and delivered a mortal blow to the Soviets. If we were to look at it today it was one of America’s crowning achieving moments when the rest of the world were coming out of the horrors of World War II. Despite the Apollo program almost going away soon after its inception by an apprehensive President, it eventually found success. The will and direction of the Federal government, who under their direction provided the means and desire and jobs to nearly every state of the Union. Their voice was unified in the desire to beat the Soviets, bankrupt their communist souls and their banks at the same time. A goal that came down from the top and managed by the top and given clear directions through its department NASA to all of its various departments and private contractors. Everyone were given clear goals that were to be followed to the letter and within specifications and timelines (let’s face it it was a race). The unification of the common national goal came through with the reinforcement of that message over and over, from the President, the head of NASA, the managers of NASA, the managers and leaders of private contractors. The message of governors in states where work for NASA was being done, down to the most local level of government understood what was asked of them and why. Through this unified message, the people delivered both in their work and pulling together in a unified manner despite the many political discord, strifes and varying opinions on war and racial tensions of the time. Despite all the difference in opinion in America in 1968 alone, man reached the moon in 1969. Lyndon Johnson had many reasons to continue the Apollo program but I don’t know if he realized that the message from the top of the political chain and the consistency of that message unified the country with a project that brought the whole country together.

As we face our generation’s greatest opportunity to deliver on a challenge synonymous with reaching the moon, ridding the world of COVID-19 we again find ourselves without time but again we have lots of money. Unlike the Apollo program we need to reach our challenge as soon as possible and if it possible in less than two years. We face challenges not unlike that of before, we face a world similar to that of 1968, political unrest, unpopular policies that are aiming at curbing the virus but is having a hard time from people quarantining and staying put. We are facing a situation similar to 1968 where the fight for COVID-19 is taking place amongst the midst of all other miseries of modern day life as well as political fighting all while trying to maintain the modern democracy from disappearing. The success that made the Apollo bring man all the to the moon is much needed here and now. A voice that needs to emanate from the top down has largely been missing. The states rights movements which exist for good reason, to prevent the Federal government from overpowering their way of life has now taken root as the sole defense in the absence of voice of reason from higher levels of government. A defense mechanism that exists to prevent the Federal government becoming too powerful, too large, too strict in their ability to tell how the 50 member states of the great union to live is now backfiring in the void of leadership. The states are not to blame, they are right in their stance, they don’t want to be told what to do, especially when the voice of the Federal government has faded given that there has been no plan for past year, when it was needed the most. Supporters of leaders that are responsible for the current situation view this as a way for the states to exert their rights and celebrate it but lack the drive and often make the situation worse, because they feel alone in this endeavor, there is no guidance, no unifying voice. The reality is that almost all 50 states have received some form of support whether be it through, funding, advice or a combination of the two since the beginning of our great country. However that process was happening so fluidly that one never stopped to wonder what would happen in its absence. What we are seeing now is the reality of that absence. The void of that leadership is trying to be filled in by the states, something they have never experienced to this level before. This combined with the lack of experience is making for a dangerous situation confused with their freedoms finding expression and space that they never had before. The subconscious synergistic relationship between the states and the feds being taken away is creating a void that is being filled with anger in the absence of understanding on how to move forward, something that the states never had to face in our long history.

The opportunity here is still ripe for the taking, unifying the country is more than asking us to heal together and forgiving your neighbor for celebrating their differences. It is going to require finding a way to centralize and improve upon the vaccine distribution and winning back the normalcy of the status quo by persevering with the vaccine companies with a centralized guided approach, one that people ignore as if they never had it or were ever part of it. The return to normalcy is depended on the elimination of most of COVID-19 in 2021. This will be the starting point upon which the peace this country had largely relied on for its success. The leaders have to make the vaccine campaigns work with a centralized approach and giving the states guidance to the point where there should be no ambiguity on guidelines, what remains is execution. This is one of those times where we celebrate our unity of our many states through team work and that team work won’t take place unless there is a leader at the helm giving clear instructions, one that every state follows so that we may we win together and persevere together and realize together that what makes America great is strength through unity. The leadership in their unified stance should persevere through difficult criticism as the success will bring back the normalcy. Public projects win public support leading to confidence which leads to co-operation and it becomes an infinite positive feedback loop. One good thing leads to another good thing. Whatever we do we must persevere on a public plan that is outlined by Washington whether or not it has the support of people. Because it is through leadership and the outcome of that leadership will we see the other end of this pandemic. I wish all the leaders of the free world much luck and persevere through criticism and naysayers and the anti-intellgentsia and weather the storm for the inevitable betterment of our society.

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