Responsibility of Citizenship and LeadershipThere are at least two thoughts about the recent Romney 47% comment. The first thought is on consistency, a better way to think about authenticity. And, the second thought is on a need for a conversation about human nature and philosophy of who we are, or should be, as citizens.

Consistency in Character and Conversations

Each campaign, we gain an unexpected glimpse of what candidates feel when they are talking to contributors. In this social media age, it seems that candidates should understand nothing is private anymore. More importantly, why can’t candidates be consistent between audiences? Or, why can’t leaders be consistent in message whether or not a microphone is turned on? Shouldn’t the message be the same?

This is what authenticity is really all about – consistency in words and actions. It shouldn’t matter if one is speaking to a joint session of Congress or two people in a bar. Who we are should be the same. Our beliefs and values should be the same.

Four years ago, then-senator Obama had a similar issue with the “guns and religion” comment, but his comment did have more empathy, as pointed out in this NPR article – “Comparing Romney’s ’47 Percent’ Remark And Obama’s ‘Cling To Guns’ Comments.”

Consistency of character is an essential trait in being an authentic leader, as is empathy.

Time for a Character and Citizenship Conversation

In our world history, philosophy used to be important and core to our conversations on who we are as humans and what we should be. Today, we are a nation of short clips and trying not to say what really needs to be done in the face of challenges. It is a fear of not being elected. It is a fear of losing something we have.

Maybe, just maybe, a part of our national debate should be on the role of citizens and expectations for our government programs. Maybe it should be a discussion about the “47%” viewpoint and the “guns and religion” one. The conversation should be around the entitled and the bitter. Neither of these accurately describes the segments of our society though.

We are facing financial realities of multi-year trillion dollar deficits. We all need to step-up to this reality and make the necessary changes. This is the responsibility of our elected leaders and us. After all, we are citizens, and we are responsible. Citizens (some) vote for leaders, and then our leaders (some) try to lead.

It is time for the honest conversation on our roles as a citizen and the role of our government. A balance is required between what we can and need to do and what we can afford to do. Empathy is required as is fiscal and moral responsibility.

Being a solid citizen requires character, too, as we need to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable.

It Is Time

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

“In a president, character is everything…  you can’t buy courage and decency, you can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him. If he does, they will give meaning and animation to the great practical requirement of the presidency:  He must know why he’s there and what he wants to do. He has to have thought it through… This is a function of thinking, of the mind, the brain.”- Peggy Noonan

“The worth of the state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.” – John Stuart Mill

It is time. Our worth requires it. The time demands it.

We need real leaders with high character.

We need to solve real issues.

We need to make this the Citizenship Generation, stepping up to our challenges and demanding the same of our leaders.