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Time for a Franklin Delano Roosevelt inspired leadership

It’s almost a daily harvest of depressing news about our dear country which, of course, keeps chipping away at the optimism of not a few.…

It’s almost a daily harvest of depressing news about our dear country which, of course, keeps chipping away at the optimism of not a few. We have serially faltered on following through on so many lofty strategies in building a functional nation. In effect, the country is stuck in its present quagmire, having lost the plot long ago to the abundance of poor choices that were made.

Then, those who enjoyed the collective trust to superintend the affairs of the country elected to bask under the sunshine of pleasures and trappings of their offices to a dizzying degree, leaving them oblivious of the ephemerality of living. Unhappily, the sense of creativity in governance became casualty of the attendant indolence and lethargy.

It has also been a contemptuous response to the loud proclamation of an incipient ‘apocalypse’ long ago by economic prophets at home and abroad. The gathering cloud of the economic crisis did little to awaken them to the presage of a changing phase that called for sober and deep reflection. They were unfazed by depleting treasury. So, to keep a semblance of normality, a borrowing binge followed.

Well, Odysseus and his men in the Greek mythology who were beguiled into eating the sweet and mind-bending lotus fruits which constrained them to abandon their purpose, become slothful and apathetic.  Like Odysseus who then worked to jolt his men out of their dreamy state, the country deserves a leader that will do the same.

It has become a sort of threadbare that the country requires an unusual leader that will pull it from the precipice. And, there’s no more auspicious time for such a person than now with the 2023 elections already knocking at the door.

From all sides the country is hemmed in by daunting challenges. And, it requires no cosmetic approach but an elaborate surgery under the supervision and participation of a ready-to-work kind of person. Of course, a virtuoso of some sort in leadership!  

I think the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) personality, temperament and approach provide an object lesson to the candidates jostling for the presidential seat. It will take tough decisions underpinned by courage and a combination of policy ideas, political deftness, empathy and self-confidence to fix the broken state of the country.

The American depression of the 1930s was a big stage for a leader with transcendent vision and mentality to show up. The emergence FDR during the tumultuous period simply flipped the light on the darkness that enveloped America. He still holds great fascination for a lot of people primarily on the strength of the force of leadership that he unleashed to squelch the economic conflagration that stoked up misery and privation of an epic proportion.  

FDR was clear eyed about the challenges which informed the power behind his inaugural speech that practically reassured and rallied the people and also served as a moment to assuage the pervasive miasma of despair and desperation. He was impatient with the status quo and clearly impressed it on the people.

It was quite a juggling act for the president!  He had his magic wand – a plan tagged the ‘New Deal’, which was a raft of domestic policies ready to weave.  It had three approaches which were made of 3Rs: Relief for the poor and unemployed; Recovery for the economy and Reform of the financial system.

FDR hit the ground running right upon accepting his party presidential nomination by unfurling his plan which was inchoate then. It later crystallised into an actionable and concrete agenda to move the needle on the insufferable poverty and misery of the American people.

He had a common touch and confidence that permeated the society. And, he related to the daily struggle for survival by Americans and so, ensured that government didn’t become a bystander in the economic meltdown. He practically threw everything to douse the fire which was clearly in keeping with his view that, “It is common sense to take a method and try it, it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

It wasn’t beneath him to solicit advice; so he had his finger on the pulse of the country through a wide range of sources.

To all intent and purposes, he succeeded not exclusively on his declared plan but also on the capacity in putting together a coherent team drawn from different walks of life that worked together in shaping his plan. Then, he balanced the slew of reforms with social reliefs; he practically humanised the various interventions, in addition to drawing the support and trust of Congress. 

The whole enchilada were people centered which irked not a few powerful people at the upper crust of the American society who viewed his action as antithetical to the capitalist culture. FDR was never sidetracked.

Again, our rise or fall as a nation rests on the table of the next man. FDR mentally is bullish and the country needs that now. As things stand, it’s not an easy proposition to pull the country’s Chestnut from the fire. So, that makes the choice of leadership in the next year election consequential. We owe ourselves a good leader.

Abachi Ungbo sent in this piece and can be reached at: abachi007@yahoo.com