On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Juana Bordas
Diversity leader

Juana Bordas

Juana Bordas is president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company focusing on leadership, diversity, and organizational change. Author of the 2007 book Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, she is a board member of the International Leadership Association.

Busting the filibuster

In response to the On Leadership question: Write a memorable passage of the president's State of the Union speech that would allow him to get his leadership mojo back.

"In 2004 when I first spoke at the Democratic convention, I asked the American people, 'Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?' In the last presidential election you chose hope. Only one year ago our spirits rang high we believed we could create the change we wanted to see in our country.

Hope is the belief that what is desirable is possible. Hope is the abiding faith in the possibilities of our nation. Hope is the confidence that we can change things for the better! I have tried in this past year to promote the politics of hope - the belief that Democrats and Republicans, people from red and blue states, liberals and conservatives could put away their differences for the good of our people. I believed that together we could start a new day. Reinvent American politics. Listen to our higher angels.

But tonight, one year later, I know a change in the presidency as powerful as that is cannot change the way the game is played - it is time to address the stark reality of American politics. Tonight we must attend to the fierce urgency of now: the needs and hope of our nation, our people, and our children. This must come before any to desire to change the political game. For this reason, after reaching out with the politics of reconciliation, I am prepared tonight to call for the practice of reconciliation in Congress.

Reconciliation, you see, is the antidote to the threat of Republican filibustering - a dark practice that was used to block civil rights legislation, including anti-lynching legislation. Under the rules of reconciliation which can be enacted by the majority party, debate is limited to 20 hours, and it cannot be blocked by filibuster. Reconciliation enables parties to pass legislation through the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes usually needed to pass controversial bills.

Under the administration of President George W. Bush, Congress used reconciliation to enact three major tax cuts which benefited the wealthy and not our working people. In 2005, Senate Republicans used reconciliation to allow oil and gas exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is time to use reconciliation to keep our promise to the American people and to promote positive change. Reconciliation will allow Congress to pass legislation to have a healthy nation, a clean environment, alternative energy, educational reform and good jobs.

Reconciliation can heal the anemic process that has crippled legislation and held our government hostage. It can give the American people a government that works for them not against them. Certainly, my hope is that there will be a true spirit of real reconciliation and cooperation, but majority rule has always been accepted as the American way.

There are those who believe that because of my conciliatory nature and my desire to bring people together that I cannot be a leader that makes the hard calls and takes unpopular measures. Yet, the great nonviolent teacher Mohandas Gandhi believed that to achieve change in the world a leader must take unadulterated fearlessness action.

Tonight I am prepared to take that action - an action that will inspire hope in America and restore the democratic process in Congress. I am prepared to go to the mat with reconciliation and pass every bill that benefits the American people. Is that enough change?"

By Juana Bordas

 |  January 26, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: 'Price of liberty' | Next: 'You still believe'

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company