Archived Story

Leaders demonstrate lack of focus

Published 9:49am Wednesday, August 14, 2013 Updated 11:52am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When everything becomes a priority, nothing is a priority. Behind this important leadership principle lies the heart of the problem to our national malaise.

Our Washington, D.C. leaders have routinely demonstrated a lack of focus on their role in American government, rather eagerly chasing after the latest issue, regardless of whether it is more appropriately a state matter. In the military community, we’d say they have been unable to stay in their lane.

What’s the result of this lack of disciplined focus? First, we’ve witnessed areas we’d expect national leadership and oversight such as national defense/security and border security.

One just needs to reflect on Benghazi, National Security Agency, the AP scandal and immigration. Even further, the deplorable level of services my fellow vets (another federal responsibility) receive upon return home is a disgrace. Reports have shown unacceptably long waiting lists for veteran’s affairs, particularly for mental health services.

Second, when Washington lacks disciplined focus in their lane, the federal government grows to epic proportions with accompanying arrogance. Reflect here on the IRS scandals. Consider their obscene Las Vegas junket scandal, on one hand, or their political targeting of certain groups on the other hand — even encouraged through letters by a few U.S. Senators.

Here, it should be noted this is not an indictment on any one administration or political party, for the reality is that the federal government is just too big to be realistically managed by any administration.

Finally, Washington’s usurpation of many traditional state government roles, such as welfare, has led to ineffective use of taxpayer dollars and a terrible blow upon many human spirits. The war on poverty has been an abysmal failure.

Even non-profits dealing in this area, acknowledge witnessing a new third generation of citizens dependent on the government rather than themselves. Entitlement programs are bursting.

What’s the answer? One thing seems certain. The solution is not to send more politicians to Washington, D.C., who feel through cleverness, the federal bureaucratic beast can be managed through building “a better mousetrap.”

As a locally elected County Commissioner, I’ve been advocating devolution of power from Washington, D.C. to the local level, close to the people. One reason, it makes no sense to attempt solving largely local issues through a one-size-fits-all dictated solution from distance Washington, D.C. Remember, in Washington, D.C., 535 Senators and Congressmen, largely from other states, (actually 98 percent from other states) make decisions affecting Minnesotans.

What a tremendous inefficiency to have Minnesotans’ hard-earned dollars taken from Washington, D.C., and redistributed after their cut.

Why not keep our dollars for our problems? You can bet we’d watch these dollars with more vigilance.

Finally, why devolve to local elected officials? It’s not because we are necessarily any smarter or better people than those serving in Washington. Rather, it’s because we’re closer to the font of wisdom: the American citizen. Under this watchful eye, if we make a ‘bonehead decision’ we’re often booted from office, unlike Washington where the re-election rate is routinely 95 percent.


Chris Dahlberg is an Iraq War Vet with 25 years military service and is a St. Louis County Commissioner.

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