Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 | In 1984 the Wendy’s hamburger chain launched a commercial with three elderly ladies skeptically staring at a large hamburger bun when one cynically blurts, “Where’s the beef?” Overnight, a new American phrase to question the substance of an idea or product was born.
Today, in a similar vein, we ask you our fellow San Diegans and Americans this question: Where’s the Vision with our Leadership?
We are questioning the substance of our leadership — from the smallest of municipalities to the great halls of Congress and the White House. We see a full field of leaders and want-to-be-leaders across the political spectrum, yet we see in them an almost complete absence of the kind of vision that inspires cities and nations toward greatness. All politicians claim vision, yet after election-day we are repeatedly presented with paper shuffling and bureaucrat-think.
America is fundamentally an aspirational nation. As such, our leaders need to inspire: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal” (Jefferson), “We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free” (Paine), “All we have to fear is fear itself” (Roosevelt), “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” (Kennedy), “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed” (King), “Morning in America” (Reagan), et al.
In recent years we unfortunately have been inundated with meaningless platitudes like “Creating a New World Order,” “Building a Bridge to the 21st Century,” and “Compassionate Conservatism.” Even more troubling, the aspirational and inspirational ideas of yesteryear have been replaced with such mundane causes as Privatizing Social Security, Healthcare Savings Accounts, and Ethanol Subsidies. Yawn.
Where are today’s innovative and exciting public square ideas that will be the building blocks of tomorrow’s great cities and nations?