Will a Real Leader Please Step Forward?

Posted: February 20, 2012 in Government, Political
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the multitude of problems with being me is the fact that I just refuse to join the crowd.  As a matter of fact the last thing I joined that I put any effort into was the Army.  I have to say, 18 years after I joined, the reasons I enlisted were not the reasons I have ended up staying, but that is one of the benefits of being me, I can change my mind or reasons.  During my career I have pretty much seen every leadership style, or lack there of, available to mankind.  Those leaders with which I held in high esteem, I attempted to emulate.  All of the others, from just outside of emulation to how the hell did they ever get promoted, offered up bits of themselves to be used or discarded.  One thing all of us shared is the bond of this special little society that you need to be a part of to understand.  One of the reasons from the Army standpoint that we can have such a radical shift from awesome to less than stellar is the philosophy that everyone is a leader.  It used to actually state in one of our Field Manuals that leaders are made not born.  This is not a philosophy I agree with and have been to enough of the required schools for promotion to solidify that belief within myself.

I am well aware that not every leader is just born for it.  I have seen people that come from a long lineage of military service who could not hold a candle to their familial legacy, and I have seen the least likely of people step up and inspire “Patton-like” followings and capabilities.  Some folks have the natural inclination and just need some formal training to round out the knowledge base and bring out the finer qualities.

So what are the qualities that I use to judge the quality of leadership?  This is not so easily answered as it would seem.  If it were a Hollywood movie, it would be a ruggedly handsome, 6 foot something, broad shouldered, more than likely piercing blue eyes, the ability to hold the attention of his men with his brains, wit and unsurpassed ability to rapidly formulate the perfect plan and sell it to them even when they know they will not come back.  More often then not in the movies this dude is a Captain or Major with the unlimited power of the government behind him, and he is the only one to survive by the end of the movie, with the hot chick of course.

The reality of course is far from the Hollywood version.  Audie Murphy is an exception not a rule.  Most leaders I have seen as the epitome of leadership have been a patchwork quilt of qualities.  They are usually not even realized until after that person has been moved on and even then the view is a bit skewed.  The success of a leader is best represented by what he hands over to his replacement.  This to me is one of the universal qualities of dynamic leadership, it transcends the military.  What you pass on to the next in line should be done with the intent of it not being able to be made better.  Their challenge should be to take what you gave them, make it better, place their stamp on it and pass the challenge on to the next guy.

Now that I have provided a little frame of reference for how I see leadership, I am going to move this out to the public circle and try to address the intent of my title.  This is an election year, a year in which we will vote for the next President of the United States and my Commander in Chief.  I am going to spend just a very small portion of my words on our current president.  He is my current Commander in Chief, the man every person in the military takes his marching orders from.  I may not agree with all or even most of what he says or does, that is my right as a citizen, but I will not bash him.  I do not agree with all of his policies.  I do not think that he falls into my opinion of a great leader.  I do believe he was handed a shit sandwich, not as much of GW’s doing as a culmination of poor policy decisions from the Clinton era that came to an untimely culmination.  I think much like Kennedy, he made it into office as a direct result of his constituency and the inability of his challenger to sell himself in the same way (the wack job VP choice did not help things any).  Unlike many, I do believe despite his faults, he is an American, he does not intend to do harm to our country and as small as they may seem, he has made a few hard decisions that had they failed would have resulted in a negative light.  The limited invasion of Pakistan to kill Bin Laden took balls on his part.  Comparatively speaking Clinton chose to launch some cruise missiles given the same opportunity back in 98 rather than go into Sudan and kill the same guy. He missed.

Now lets move over to the competition.  I generally lean more towards the right then the left, but I try to maintain an overall centrist viewpoint.  Like a train wreck I am drawn to the Republican process as it unfolds, despite the fact that in all reality I do not think any of the candidates have the ability to do any better of a job than my current boss.  Given the misguided perceptions of our Constitution, the religiosity and the inflexibility that comes with it and the ebb and flow of popularity between the candidates, it will be amazing to me how they intend to pick a viable candidate and overcome the injuries the party has inflicted upon itself by November.  Oh, I know how, we are Americans.  Our attention span is roughly 90 seconds long, Wikipedia is a viable resource for research and we have an innate ability to filter out the parts we do not like and make the rest seem stellar and true.  We can Evangelize any piece of information and denigrate anyone who is of a differing opinion, questioning their right to do so as un-American all the while touting the Constitution as the guiding light by which they live; oh and cannot forget their bible too.

So where do I stand now that I have spewed forth such insults to the potential future leaders of our country?  I do not know.  I do know, given the criteria I listed earlier for leadership qualities, the only reason I will go to war for them is because they are the Commander in Chief.  That is a pledge I made, regardless of the opinion I have of the person.  I hope to vote my conscience for the right person in November.  I am not a member of any party, nor will I ever be.  I will not even register as an Independent.  Until there is more than a two-party system, that is just how I will be.  Chances are, whomever wins, will do so more with Jim Jonesian persuasion than a demonstrable ability to lead us forward.

Despite all the hoopla and bipartisan lip flapping, there is only ever one leader of this country.  That is the President.  Every other elected official is elected to represent the people, the President is elected to represent the people and the country, therefore only he is the leader.  There is an order of succession in the case of an untimely death of the President and that is set up with the hope that as you follow the layers down, each person in that current seat has grown with the responsibility and has acted with the qualities of a leader of their area of responsibility.  The scary part to that is Nancy Pelosi was third in order not too long ago!

So why all these words?  It falls into the entire intent of this blog, that is why.  When November comes around, make your decision because it is yours, not because you are a sheep.  When a candidate makes a claim as their own, question it, chances are it really was just something they were part of rather than their own device.  When a candidate denigrates the other, question why.  When the mud is flying, be smart enough to stand off to the side and not get hit by it.  Essentially, do not drink the Kool-Aid any candidate is serving, it will either be too sweet or too sour and it may even be laced with a little bit of poison.  Hopefully, by November a real leader will step forward and we will recognize them when we see them and they will be rewarded with the keys to the country for doing it.  Chances are even greater that six months after they take office we will be vilifying them for not following through on a promise we knew they had no authority to make but still fell for it anyway.

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