Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional[…]
Is America’s problem a dearth of good leadership, or a wealth of complexity?
Well the question I would repeatedly get when I was conducting public meetings in Indiana was, “Where are the leaders?” It’s the question you just asked, and I think it’s on the minds of an awful lot of Americans. Where are the Lincolns, the Jeffersons, the Washingtons? I don’t know whether I know the answer to that, but I think part of the answer may be that the country is just a lot more complicated, a lot more difficult to govern today because of its size; because of its diversity; because of the acceleration, if you would, of life. And the political skill that is most needed in this presidential election or any political election, from my point of view, is the ability to build a consensus behind a solution. It’s not very hard, really, to walk into a room of people where you’re discussing a difficult issue and blow it apart. I know it’s not very hard because I’ve done it on a few occasions. What is really hard is to walk into that room and to build a consensus behind a solution to the problem that you’re talking about. That is political skill, and that is the skill most needed in this great, big, diverse, complicated country with all of these conflicting interests that we have. Consensus building – that’s what I look for in a politician.