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Donald Kettl
Academic Dean

The politics of small things

In response to the On Leadership question: Imagine you are a speech writer working on this week's State of the Union address. Draft a memorable passage that would allow the president to get his leadership mojo back.


"As I stand before you this evening, my fellow Americans, I'm happy to report that the state of our union is excellent. But the state of our politics is not.

We want a country strong and vibrant, equipped to ensure the security of all of its people. We want to ensure that no American is denied the health care he or she needs. We want water that's safe to drink, air that's healthy to breathe, streets that are safe, and local communities that are living proof of the great ideals our founders celebrated in Philadelphia 234 years ago.

We don't always agree about everything, but too often we allow petty squabbles about little things to get in the way of the big things we all want. Government isn't about serving the little things. It's about dreaming the big things and reaching for them. It isn't about the fighting but about the doing.

So tonight, I call on all Americans--especially those with me here in this room, from both sides of the aisle--to remember that we are here to serve. I call on those elected to serve to dream the big dreams. I call on those working for government to remember that no dream matters unless we can bring it to action. We need a government that works for all Americans."

By Donald Kettl

 |  January 25, 2010; 4:01 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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