Currently there is an unending stream of complaints about our leaders, both fair and foul. Ever so often a new poll comes out showing how politicians and lawyers are among the least trusted, and most despised, of careers.
Why is this, what set of circumstances allows us to elect the most flawed of us to office. To positions of authority over us, our children, our country, our future. Notice I said positions of authority not to leadership, also when referring to this group, I’ll use terms like position of authority, governing officials, or other names and phrases but not “Leaders”, and their antics will not be termed leadership.
With that said I guess that leader and leadership should be described. First a leader is someone who can cause a person, people, state, or country to be inspired or to achieve. Leadership therefore is all the actions and examples that a person shows to reinforce, or demonstrate their message, idea, or program. To be a leader is to inspire those around you to be better! Better people, better workers, better friends, and better family members. Not just by words, but by your actions, and your deeds. All of these actions combine to better ourselves and others. So what are some examples of leaders and leadership?
Well the most recent in my memory was Ronald Reagan, when he spoke of not pale pastels but of vibrant colors, or when facing the Soviet Union told their leader, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall”, and finally after the shuttle disaster, “to slip the surly bonds of gravity and touch the face of God.” Keep going back who is next? To me Barbara Jordan and her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Going back from there, Martin Luther King, and his “I have a dream” speech, a cry for freedom, equality, tolerance, and an appreciation of the uniqueness and commonality of all. Before him? John F. Kennedy, and the three speeches that most resonate to me? Ich bin ein Berliner, Ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for country, and the “by the end of this decade to place a man on the moon”. Before these, Harry S Tru- man and his acknowledgement of responsibility, “the buck stops here.” And before him Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The last two I do not remember but the others I do.
While these examples showcase the best what are some that miss, or fail to galvanize us. Most recently Barack Obama and the two that jump out are the, “hope and change” speech and, “the most open transparent administration ever”. Perhaps time will be kinder but now too many people are paraphrasing the first into I hope there’s change, and clear as mud for the second. So going further back next is Bill Clinton and his call to arms, “I didn’t inhale”, or “I never had sex with that woman”. Hardly bell ringers for posterity, not exactly a call for class, or example to emulate. Earlier still, how about George Bush Sr., “read my lips no new taxes”. This was a good speech a worthy goal and a defining moment. So what happened next, he signed a large package of tax increases, and never got a handle on the overspending of Congress. Remember words and deeds, behaviors if not beyond reproach at least not meriting criticism.
So where do we go from here? That is up to the people, the voters. First, do not coddle, excuse, or enable politicians and their lies and exaggerations. If something is not the truth, it is a lie. Second, vote on the basis of a candidate’s character and their positions on the issues, not by, or along party lines. Third, please elect somebody or actually, many some bodies, with character, commitment, a desire to serve and a love of people, city, county, state, or country step up and run for office. Fourth, voters, if a person fails to live up to expectations or to their campaign promises do not return them to office! You are the final arbiter and judge of elected officials. Live up to and exercise the right and duty to vote. Make our elected officials live up to the higher standards that they talk about. Make them lead, force them into leadership. We used to have a saying in TDC (Texas Department of Corrections), lead, follow, or get out of the way. So, to all who would hold office – lead us, follow our wishes, or get out of the way, we want our government back! Now I have a question, which person inspires you, who would you model your life after. Let me know and maybe in the future there will be an article on them.
ROY POKLADNIK, a teacher and problem solver welcomes comments and suggestions for topics . He may be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org.