Pastor Freed used this quote some time ago in his Jack’s Winning Words blog and I’ve been saving it for inspiration – “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” (John Quincy Adams)
Leaders aren’t cynics, like our current Tweeter-in-Chief. Leaders don’t lead by painting negative pictures, they lead by offering inspiring visions that others want to follow. As I thought back over the last few decades of presidents that we’ve had in Washington, there have been few real leaders. There have been a few competent stewards of the nation and some good men who just didn’t inspire us. There have also more than a few politically savvy fools who took us off into wrong directions. Rather than try to evaluate and label the various occupants of the White House over my lifetime, I will just say that, in my opinion, we’ve only had maybe 2 Presidents that I would say had the vision and charisma to be called true leaders.
During the recent Democratic primary season, we got glimpses of candidates with leadership potential. Men and women with visions of what this country could be with the proper direction and leadership. Obviously, none of them were there yet and the Democratic Party ended up with what they felt was a safe fallback candidate. So, we are faced again this election with a choice that, while obvious, does not inspire the electorate to dream about a greater future, just about a less foolhardy one.
Perhaps this is the consequence of the polarization of the two political parties and the lack of any viable third alternative. The parties seem to embrace candidates that are safe and predicable (although one party has veered sharply away from those values), even if they don’t really inspire us. The rhetoric of current politics has shifted from expressing positive messages about where we could go to focusing upon conspiracy theories, mudslinging and name-calling. Instead of aspiring to go to the moon, as we once did, we are now harangued to protest against whoever occupies the leadership position. It is sad that we no longer march as a nation toward some goal, but instead march in protest against almost every decision made at the top, no matter which party is in power.
We should be watching the elections at the state level, whether for state offices or congressional seats, looking for that elusive spark of leadership that may serve to unite and excite us all. I’m sure that the leaders of tomorrow are out there. I just hope that the muck of our current political landscape hasn’t become so nasty and pervasive that they have soured against applying their leadership skills to pursuit of political offices.
Let’s all hope that true leaders emerge from the mess that we find ourselves in now. Perhaps we are in the darkest hour before a new sunrise of leadership. I want to be inspired by my leaders again.