Not everyone is meant to be a leader. A good leader is able to respond to crisis in ways the rest of us are not. A good leader does not get caught up in what is best for their career, but what is best for those they lead. They know that whatever despair and distress the people around them experience is their own. A good leader is selfless and sacrificing, giving up vacations and whatever else is required to fix what is broken. A good leader is not interested in covering their ass when they don’t do a good enough job. They admit they screwed up and figure out how not to do it again. A good leader knows that the way to spread hope is not to fly over, but to walk through.

Most of our leaders have failed us. In the days and weeks and years before the disaster of Katrina they just didn’t care enough to prevent what is happening now, and in the days since the hurricane hit they are too busy covering their asses to fix it. These are not leaders, but small, pathetic men and women who don’t have the courage to admit they screwed up, choosing instead to pretend they are doing the best they can.

The only person in this entire debacle who we deserve to have as a leader is the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. His words during this radio interview were those of a man who didn’t care about reelection or which fellow politicians he pissed off, only how to help the people he has been charged with leading.

Because Americans are rarely faced with situations like this one, I think we forget why we elect leaders in the first place. We get lulled into thinking their only job is to sit in their white castle and debate issues that don’t affect most of us, so who cares who wins or loses elections? The complete lack of leadership around this disaster has reminded us what our leaders are for. I hope we remember it next time an election rolls around. There are people out there who can lead, we just aren’t electing them.