The more I think about the role of the President, the more confused I am at what George W. Bush was trying to do. Many hardcore liberals would argue that he is evil and that he sought to destroy the United States. I don’t think that’s the case. Many conservatives would assert that he was trying to bring respect back to Washington, and when America was attacked on 9/11, he also needed to defend the country against the terrorists. I don’t think that’s what happened either.

What did he do? Well, I’m pretty sure he sapped America of its pride. As John Edwards used to say on the campaign trail, “It’s time to be patriotic about something other than war.” If you hear Bush speak, that apparently is all we have to be proud of anymore — those men and women who give their all to defend us (this is certainly something to be proud of). But that certainly is not the only thing we should treasure.

We should be able to treasure a country that believes in the goodness of everyone, using politics to build on shared experiences, conversations, dialogue, bridging differences, appreciating our individually-held gifts and beliefs. We should believe that we have a government concerned about its citizens, not one who seeks to help out friends and associates of the President. We should be proud of the fact that we’re a moral force in the world, one that sets the tone on environmental treaties, human rights, and technological innovation. We should be proud of our economic prowess, one that expands and strengthens the middle class, invests in jobs we’ve never seen before but ones that light our creative minds on fire.

When I think about this kind of a country, I think about what it would take to get here, what we have right now, and I shake my head. Wouldn’t it be great to have a president who understands there is more to leadership than top-down hierarchies, sweetheart policies/deals for buddies, a lack of interest in compromise, and selfishness? Wouldn’t it be great to feel empowered by your president? When I think of servant leadership, I think of that being my role as a citizen when this country is led by someone trained in leadership.

Looking at the problems we face, it’s quite apparent that we need more than a parasitic war and a president not asking us to sacrifice (he either soaks the rich with irresponsible tax cuts, or cuts the poor off from the rest of society by cutting programs steeped in America’s social fabric since the 1930s). We need a president who inspires us and realizes that the answers to America’s problems can be found in the hopes and dreams of its citizens — all of them.

What do you think?