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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

'Price of liberty'

In response to the On Leadership question: What should President Obama say in the State of the Union address to regain his leadership mojo?

What I suggest he should say is the following:

"The founding fathers of this republic created a national government with a purpose: liberty and justice for all. These ideals are the foundation of America's strengths, freedom for individuals to build successful businesses, innovate and speak their minds, while able to trust they would be protected from unscrupulous authority. Yet, throughout our history, we Americans have argued and fought over the meaning of these concepts. Only after a bloody civil war did many Americans gain their liberty. Only after a long struggle to pass the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution did women gain the right to vote. Only after heated legislative battles did Congress decide that a just society would protect the elderly from poverty and disease with social security and medicare.

Let us not be complacent, the struggle for liberty and justice has no end. Patrick Henry said it at the founding of the nation, 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.' As our fighting men and women abroad continue to defend our liberty, we must strengthen our vigilance from those who threaten us at home. We cannot accept the bureaucratic bungling that almost allowed a terrorist to blow up a plane at Christmas. We must and will be more vigilant.

I have no illusions that we will all agree about what we need to do to build a more just society. But this is what I believe.

It is not just that some young Americans benefit from schooling that prepares them for success in an increasingly competitive global economy while other young Americans are denied this education. It is not just that in a rich society like ours fellow citizens who work hard and play by the rules have no health insurance. It is not just to give the next generation an environment in worse shape than we found it. It is not just that bankers whose skins were saved by the American people then give themselves huge bonuses, And it is not just to leave our children a huge national debt because we refused to pay for what we spent.

For much of the past year, I have worked hard on keeping this economy from collapsing, propping up our banks and auto companies, and with the help of Congress providing stimulus funds to save jobs. And I have focused on repairing our relationships abroad and fighting terrorists in Afghanistan. Now that our economy is starting to mend, it is time to strengthen the foundation of its greatness.

Fellow Americans, I invite you to join me in the struggle to further liberty and justice for all. The more we achieve, the better and more prosperous we will become. Our industries will benefit from a more educated and healthier work force. All of us will benefit from a cleaner environment and a more equitable society. By working together in this struggle, we can overcome doubt and frustration and renew the vision of a better tomorrow. "

By Michael Maccoby

 |  January 26, 2010; 2:56 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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