Accountability

Football is gauged on wins and losses.  Win and you are golden, lose and you are the goat.  This win/loss criteria apply to the head coach as you would expect, but surprisingly it also applies to the starting quarterback.  There are at least 21 other starters for each game, yet the QB is the one who gets the credit for the win and the blame for a loss.  Even if the QB had very little to do with either outcome they still receive the credit or blame.  This got me thinking about politics and an extreme lack of accountability.

As you are reading this Governor Chris Christie (R - NJ) is facing a scandal with his aides and a possible political retribution issue.  It really doesn't matter what happened when (this will be hashed out as reporters sift through the emails and statements from all of those involved to find the one phrase that supports their view of the story).  It doesn't matter what the federal probe turns up at the end of all of this.  It doesn't even matter how you feel about Governor Christie.  Right or wrong, he is now forced to focus on this issue instead of running the state during his second term.  Unless some miracle occurs, he probably won't be able to consider a Presidential run in 2016.



The question here is accountability.  When you lead you are responsible for all that occurs under your command.  That means the good and the bad.  If your secretary comes up with a way to save the company a bundle on expenses, she might get flowers, but you could get a promotion.  If on the other hand you approve an expense report for the rental of a tropical island, well then even if you didn't rent the island you will still be looking for work elsewhere.  In Washington, this doesn't seem to be the status quo.  If you mess up, it was obviously someone else's fault.

As a citizen of this great country, I demand accountability.  I told a former supervisor I was willing to accept all of the blame for a failed strategy, but I expected all of the praise for the successful one.  This manager wanted to blame me completely for the bad (even though I shared responsibility equally with another), and he minimized my success (even though I was the only person responsible).  This is not how it should work, and this is not how it works in real life.

During 2009 through even today, the current party in the White House is blaming previous administrations for the failings of this country.  High unemployment (don't believe the government rates since they don't count the people who stopped looking for work), the stagnant economy, the housing decline, diminished prestige overseas and the downgrading in the credit rating for the United States.  Now in the interests of being fair I am willing to admit that previous decisions made by the government have a lot to do with the economy and could be looked at as successful for a period of time.  Running on a ticket of change should not mean for the worse.

When you take control of the government, you take control of all of the government.  Not the parts you like.  Not the parts you have experience running.  EVERYTHING.  You are now in charge and from this day forward you are solely responsible for fixing what you claimed was broken.  You can't blame anyone else.  President Truman is famous for the phrase "the buck stops here".  Even if he didn't cause the problem he was responsible for fixing it.  What a novel concept.  Don't blame someone else.  Fix the problem.  Don't claim no one will compromise when you won't compromise.  If you can reach across the isle then do it, don't just say it.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing former Press Secretaries Dee Dee Myers and Dana Perino debate the state of our country and the politics in Washington.  As you might expect, both women were supportive of their party.  It was thoroughly enjoyable, but one comment stands out to me.  This came from Ms Myers.  She stated that just like Fonzie from Happy Days, President Obama has a very hard time saying he was wrong.  He is too quick to blame others instead of taking responsibility and fixing the problem he caused.  I can't say it any better than that.


In summary, take responsibility for your actions.  The good and the bad.  We are never as bad as anyone claims, but we are never as good as we think.  We are somewhere in between.  We should always try to learn from the mistakes and temper our ego following the good.  It is never going to be all good, but thankfully it will probably never be all bad either.