Many Americans—and especially those who see themselves as conservative—identify "rugged individualism" as a quintessential American characteristic. There is deep-seated admiration for those who make their own way in life, who set out to forge their individual path to success. However, the truth is that a nation cannot be truly successful if everyone is heading off in their own direction without regard to anyone else. At a certain point Americans need to come together as one nation and unite to address the many serious problems facing the country. After all, we live in community with one another, not in isolation. To succeed in the War on Terror, to solve the Social Security crisis, to finally address our failed immigration policies, Americans are going to have to work together f or the common good. Strong leadership will be required to create the unity and the consensus necessary to develop solutions to difficult problems.
So far there seems to be considerable doubt in the minds of the American people as to who among the current crop of presidential candidates has the requisite leadership abilities to solve our country's problems. After having had many months to think it over, many members of both parties seem especially excited about candidates who are not even in the race: Fred Thompson and Al Gore. Everyone knows that a strong leader with vision will be required to bring the nation together and start leading it in the right direction. While one would not want to fall prey to messianic delusions—imagining that there is a man or woman who could effortlessly unite everyone and lead us into a utopian future—it is nevertheless true that a strong leader in the right place and at the right time can have an historic impact.