America’s Leadership Crisis: Reigniting Our Character

September 12, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

America must pause and honestly assess our leadership crisis.

Throughout every facet of society—corporate, government, sports, entertainment, and even faith-based communities—we see alarming stories of scandal and corruption.

America is privileged to have democracy, prosperity, and cherished freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. 

But, character must be the center of our privileges and freedoms. Character must be the heartbeat of the nation. 

We must heed the words attributed to Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers:

“Yes, we did produce a near perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.”

“The decline and fall of the Roman Empire” has become an iconic phrase. Many attribute the fall to the decline of morals, values, and character.

America must learn from the demise of the Roman Empire and not allow history to repeat itself. Our nation must rise to heights of greatness with character as our foundation.

Recent Scandals

On Sept. 4, a jury returned guilty verdicts against former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and former first lady Maureen G. McDonnell.

Robert McDonnell was convicted of 11 of 13 counts and Maureen McDonnell was convicted of 9 of 13 counts. These included honest services wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right, and obstruction of an official proceeding.

“Robert McDonnell and his wife turned public service into a money-making enterprise, abusing the commonwealth’s highest office to benefit a Virginia businessman in exchange for more than $170,000 in gifts and loans,” said assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

In the sports world, a time of reckoning scorched the NFL after release of two separate videotapes of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice.

In the first video, Rice manhandles his fiancée by pulling her limp, unconscious body off an Atlantic City elevator.

In the second video, Rice viciously knocks her unconscious in the elevator with a full force punch to the head.

The scandal is not only related to Rice’s sickening and callous crime but it also demands accountability from the NFL commissioner and a prosecutor.

These are only two recent examples of the crisis of character taking place throughout the nation.

The sports scandal follows years of NFL player arrests. These include domestic violence, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, DWI, disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of a firearm, burglary, drug possession, and murder. By now one would think that “zero tolerance” is more than a catch phrase.

Public corruption has been a serious problem and a fundamental threat to America’s security and way of life. It includes bribery, witness tampering, illegal kickbacks, extortion, fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and election crimes.

Abraham Lincoln: Model of Character

America has been temporarily derailed from the character we are destined for.

It has taken generations for us to get to this point and it will take time to get back on track.

This is why character education must be paramount in our schools. The heart of the nation must be resuscitated by character. We must give hope to our future through our youth.

Character must be reignited in America and we must do so in every facet of society, especially through our schools and colleges.

Abraham Lincoln is the pre-eminent representative of America’s character. 

As one studies Lincoln’s actions, speeches, and writings, as well as personal accounts from those who knew him, inspiration is ignited for the nation. 

Lincoln is the paragon of a great American, one who made the decision to serve with full realization that decisions must always be grounded without reservation with character and in moral responsibility.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see