With the health care debate front and center in the news we are seeing the effect one person can have in the United States Senate. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) is now saying that he opposes an expansion of Medicare to include those between the ages of 55 and 64, much to the consternation of Democrats in Washington and throughout the country. Lieberman, who, although an Independent, usually votes with the Democratic Caucus, has threatened to filibuster with the Republicans should the expansion of Medicare be included in the current legislation.
As it stands now, Democrats will likely have to fashion the bill according to Lieberman's liking, which means that health care legislation will probably not include the Medicare changes or a public option.
It is certain that Lieberman, who had to leave the Democratic party in order to win re-election, is under tremendous pressure to fall in line with the caucus. It is equally likely that he will take considerable heat for his present stance, and will lose support from Democrats in the Senate as well as potential voters in his home state of Connecticut. However, it appears he is willing to risk both of these potentialities.
Leadership can sometimes be very lonely. When Abraham Lincoln proposed the infamous Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet during the Civil War, he allowed each member to voice their honest opinion as to whether it should be implemented. To a man, every person present stated emphatically that the proclamation should not be made and that the president should not free the slaves. In the end, however, President Lincoln stated that, although he appreciated their input, his vote was the only one that counted. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued and slavery ended in the United States.
When in a position of leadership, it is important to study the facts, get advice and input from a variety of sources, make a decision, and stick by it. No matter who you upset in the process.