The Indianapolis Colts have been a modern-day football institution. In 2006 they became the first team in NFL history to begin the season with nine straight wins for two consecutive years. They also won the Super Bowl that year. In 2007 they finished 13-3, becoming the first NFL team with five consecutive seasons with twelve or more victories. In 2008 they extended the streak to six seasons. They were also the first team in 75 years to start three consecutive seasons 7-0. In 2009, they won 22 consecutive regular seasons games, setting a new NFL record, and lost in the Super Bowl.
It was as close to a dynasty as the NFL sees. And it all fell apart.
This offseason Peyton Manning, the Colts’ quarterback and one of the best signal-callers of all time, underwent neck surgery, which caused him to miss the season. Without their star player, their leader, the once-dominant Colts are winless. They have started the season 0-11 and it’s tough to see a win on the horizon. Assuming they go winless, they would hold the ignominious distinction of only being the second team to do so.
They literally went from first to worst in one year. And the reason was Peyton Manning.
The importance of a leader can never be underestimated. When something has to get done, when disagreement threatens to tear a team apart, when bold action is losing out to fear, and when people have stopped believing something is possible, a leader steps up and, well…leads.
The United States has become the Colts – a proud and dominant nation who has quickly seen their prestige evaporate due to a lack of leadership. But Americans have bigger problems than the embarrassment of going winless, and they have greater motivations than getting the first pick in the NFL Draft. What we’re dealing with is much, much bigger. We’re talking about a Greek-style bankruptcy, Italian-esque dysfunction, and a political paralysis that makes the Eurozone appear to be a pillar of unity.
Fitch, which provides grades for nation’s sovereign debt, issued a statement yesterday outlining the seriousness of the problem. “Fitch’s revised fiscal projections envisage federal debt held by the public exceeding 90% of national income (GDP) . . . by the end of the decade,” the report stated. “Such high levels of indebtedness would limit the scope for counter-cyclical fiscal policies and the US government’s ability to respond to future economic and financial crises.”
They went on to express their “declining confidence that timely fiscal measures necessary to place U.S. public finances on a sustainable path” are happening, especially in light of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s recent failure. Fitch also warns that “postponing the difficult decisions on tax and spending until after” the elections could make it more difficult to credibly reduce the deficit.
All in all, it was a painful indictment of Washington’s unwillingness to reduce our deficit. And that unwillingness rests at the feet of Obama – the leader who doesn’t lead.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a man who has worked together with state Democrats to balance a budget while lowering taxes, recently expressed his disappointment in Obama’s leadership skills.
“President Obama is a bystander in the Oval Office,” Christie said. “I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for?”
Yes, What are we paying him for?
Surely, we’re not paying for him to ride around on one of his new fancy buses and bash Republicans in a seemingly never-ending campaign trip. We’re paying him to twist some arms, knock some heads, and generally do whatever needs to be done to reduce our deficit.
The Colts downfall has taught us the importance of having a leader on the field. Someone, who people trust to succeed no matter what the odds. When Manning went down, the Colts lacked that person. They went from record win streaks to record losing streaks in no time flat.
America cannot share the same fate. The stakes are simply too high. That’s why 2012 is absolutely crucial to electing a true leader, to guide America back toward the path to prosperity. After all, this is, quite literally, our future at stake.