American needs a tougher, fearless leader

The War on Terror will come to define our generation. It will do so much like World War II and the Cold War defined previous generations. It will define our values, the way we think, our worldviews and most importantly, the way we view national security. It has already defined the way we look at our political candidates and what we expect from them.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, political candidates and elected officials have accused their opponents of being lax on national security or being soft on terrorism. We expect our leaders to be vigilant in protecting us from terrorist attacks and look to them to see what idea or plan of action they have that will keep America secure. These new views that have been formed because of the War on Terror have caused us to highly value toughness, a quality in our political candidates that was important before but now is prized beyond belief.

The previous administration proved how much it valued toughness when it came to protecting the United States from terrorists. It strongly believed that perceived weakness invited attacks on American soil, so it set out to protect the American public by acting tough.

I have not yet seen a tougher or manlier action taken by the president than when President George W. Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln to declare all major combat operations in Iraq ended in 2003. This action, along with tough talk, signaled to terrorists that America’s leaders would not give in to them just because of their attacks and assured the American public that this country’s leaders would protect them from terrorists.

From that time, both elected officials and candidates have set out to assure the American people that they will protect the country from terrorists, much in the same way a tough father will protect his child. But for all this posturing and these tough words, very little attention has been paid to who has actually thwarted the last few attempted terrorist attacks, which would be the American public.

Even though normal citizens have thwarted certain attempts, from the Christmas bomber to the attempted attack on Times Square, all that is heard is what “tough-guy” politicians are going to do to protect us from anything like that happening again.

We live in an age where there will always be a threat of terrorist attacks. It is simply a reality in this world we now live in. No leader can fully protect us from them, no matter how tough they act or what measures they take. Ultimately it is up to us normal citizens to be watchful but not fearful.

We need a leader to contend with this threat not by acting tough but by rising above this fear. I keep thinking about who the leader was during the most difficult period in our nation’s history in the last century.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not physically impressive. His only military experience came from a desk job, and he never said he would protect America. Instead he put his faith in the American public and gave it the tools it needed to defeat fascism and the excesses of perverted capitalism. Americans built the better part of the 20th century on a polio-addled aristocrat’s back because he had the faith in them and gave them the tools they needed to accomplish this destiny.

We need a leader now more than ever who will put his or her faith in the American public and give us the necessary tools so we can safeguard our liberties and freedoms.

Jordan Rubio is a broadcast journalism major from San Antonio.