Lead by example - Martha Carr

The TV talking heads, on both sides of the political fence, have started yammering about whether or not it's been a good idea of President Obama's to be taking on so many big issues in his first year in office.

They wonder if it will affect his ability to be reelected, but perhaps there's something else far more interesting going on here that could bode well for voters in generations to come.

However, in order to see it, we have to take a step back from the usual mentality of always playing to the crowd, and look at the office of the presidency and its' bigger purpose.

The office was created in part as a means to move larger legislation along, particularly when the House or Senate had become weighed down by rhetoric.

The current President has chosen to address several of the big-ticket items at once, which is why the masses voted for him. They wanted change on a larger scale.

The choices on the agenda have some hot-button issues that most presidents don't even have to face, and most who have to choose just one and run with it.

There's been a two-fronted war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health-care crisis and then the big one for most of us, which is the economy. Any one of those is a monster topic for an administration and brings along its own set of pitfalls.

This leads us back to the idea that there are two distinct ways to lead the constituents as an elected official. The first path, which is to lead with some measure of restraint in order to have any shot at getting reelected is not only more common, it's practical. This choice blends well with taking on only one issue and choosing the one that all the voters are talking about anyway.

Often, when it's the one-at-a-time method, anything else that comes up is treated as a short-term emergency and patched over with band-aids, effectively handing it off to a future administration. Again, this is what we're used to and have come to expect out of any politician. It's probably what the rest of us would do, if put in a similar situation.

However, President Obama has made a different choice, and while it's still too soon to tell whether this will benefit us, or not, this kind of political multi-tasking may end up being his real lasting legacy of change.

If the war in Afghanistan can be brought to any kind of closure during the President's first term and some kind of health-care bill is passed to cover more Americans without bankrupting small businesses as the unemployment rate finally goes down, then it will be much more difficult for the next president to throw up his or her hands in the face of a multitude of issues.

The next president will have to make actual decisions on a wide range of issues that could cost him or her an election, but will come back to the original idea of moving forward an agenda that the majority of people were voting for in the first place.

It also means that when another election rolls around, we'll have a much clearer record of the President's to use when we try to decide who will lead us next. The bigger agenda will also show us how our senators and representatives are choosing to vote on each item.

We may choose to vote for someone else, but at least we'll know with more certainty, and getting elected will be more about legislation and less about job security for politicians.

Right at the moment, we are practicing democracy on a bigger scale because we can disagree and still move forward.

If our President is reasonably successful, then we can also show the citizens of other countries, like Iran, with their green-band movement, that struggling to gain a foothold in the same principles can include everyone and isn't to be feared but embraced. No one is left out of the arguments.

It's also the boldest statement to any terrorists who claim they're for the common man, but through their acts of oppression and violence, tell the biggest lie of all. We can help those who are being pushed down to see that democracy can work even among those who loudly disagree. This is our greatest truth in America.

Our country is made up of many backgrounds who have come together, even if it's noisy at times to uphold the ideal that we can work together for the common good. Right now, we are leading by a fine example.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.