another interesting observation from the past: Leadership and Vision redux

In light of what is happening in the current Democratic dust-up between Obama and Clinton, someone reminded me of a blog entry I wrote in September of 2006. I read it and my jaw dropped.

You could go back in my blog archives, but I think it deserves reprinting. Here it is. I believe it was entitled Looking for Leaders, Looking for Vision. I wish I could get it to Obama.

Blog Entry — Sept 27, 2006

Politics is heating up around here, as I’m sure it is in your neck of the woods, too. Invariably, the claim is made that “we want to run a clean campaign.” But fear sells in America, and a politician who wants to win in America is in the business of selling. So he or she almost inevitably ends up trying to peddle fear about what his or her opponent proposes to do.

Look for people who are visionary. I don’t mean those with good ideas – lots of people have good ideas. And I don’t mean only those with correctives – we all know that there are past mistakes that need to be corrected. I mean those who make you think about the world around you differently.

The key to great political leadership is to make the people see the world in a new way and to believe that this new vision can come to pass. Kennedy had it; Ronald Reagan had it.

I didn’t like Reagan’s vision – it seemed to me to lead to the kind of selfishness that envelops us today. But it was a vision, and it galvanized people. Kennedy’s, though based a great deal on personal charisma, brought the nation into a forward-looking mode that it dearly needed after the long, exhausting emotional recovery from WWII. Clinton had the charisma to do the same, but he squandered his moral capital and lacked a vision of greatness for the country, and, ultimately was taken down by his own stupidity and a cabal of ferrets who used every means at their command to shred him bloody. GW is beneath discussion. In fact, his abject failure and political divisiveness make the need for a national vision ever more crucial.

But it is not simply in national politics that vision is needed. Look to your local races. Who can inspire you to believe that there can be kindness, honesty, clarity, and compassion at the heart of your state or community? Who can take a visionary dream and make it seem like an attainable goal? Who seems to understand you and your needs, as well as those of the people less fortunate than you, and can still shape a vision of a future that will be better for your children?

Just promising to tune up the machine is never enough. No matter what your politics, there will always be opposition to any modifications of existing systems. What is needed is always a re envisioning of the world in which we live, both locally and on larger levels.

Who says to you, “We can be better,” and not just by putting in or removing programs and kicking the current bastards out? Who inspires you with the vision that would reshape the streets and community and world in which you live? Who calls to you with the strength of Sitting Bull’s admonition, “Come, let us put our minds together to see what kind of lives we can create for our children?”

Look for those people. They are the real leaders. They are the ones who can take you to the places where your children can live a life of hopefulness and dreams.


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9 comments

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for sharing again, Kent. I sigh and agree with your sentiments about leaders, too. But my cynical American soul makes me look at all candidates for high office with a jaundiced eye.
    Mr. Obama is an undistinguished senator from Illinois, one who was basically under the control of the Speaker of the House there, a truly ineffective and venal political leader in every sense of the word. Mr. Obama sounds truly sincere, he knows what orating buttons to push, but he has no experience or qualifications that make him viable as the leader he sounds. Ideas and dreams are nothing if one doesn’t hae the will and the skills to make them real. I love his words, but I see no substance in them, nothing that indicates he has what it takes to make them real.
    Ms. Clinton comes off as half of a pack of hyenas. She strikes me as being unprincipalled, monomaniacal, and willing to do anything to win. She appears manipulative and controlling in the extreme, which I find a frightening combination in someone who wants to run our country and “work for change.”
    And the Republican candidates are as undistingushed a lot of wannabes as I’ve seen in many years. It seems that ego, hot air, and a big bankroll are enough to get you rolling for the presidency in America these days.
    In a country of 360 million people, is this truly the best we can do? Have we no experienced leaders with a sound moral compass and the willingness to be statesmen before becoming politicians? Is there no one who can fight for change, take the country on a new course, and not get dragged down by the allure of the power?
    Maybe I’m just a dreamer, wondering where the next Lincoln might come from. And maybe I’m just too saddened at the way we hawk the presidency of our country like some cheap trinket at a carnival sideshow.
    Dreams die hard in Americans, Kent. We have known better. We want better. We have a right to expect better. So why do we always settle for so much less?
    Keep the faith, my friend, and
    Peace on all your Paths.
    Mark

  2. Sandi says:

    Ah, Mark, what a beautifully written and expressed comment! I believe you and I are on the same page so there is nothing more I need to add. I, too, am a dreamer; however, as the years roll by, the more discouraged I become.

    Blessings to all,
    Sandi

  3. harold rite says:

    kent, mark and sandi-
    maybe upon some intensive reflection i might possibly come up with something to add to all you have shared. but at the moment you three have just about said it all and i for one appreciate your words and can add nothing but my thanx. stay well- 96

  4. Chuck says:

    I too will agree with Mark and add my hopes that there is a leader out there who will truly inspirer and lead us. It’s been so long and we have such great potential as a country and people. Othewise we just need to keep the faith and hope/pray for the best.

  5. Alexandra Saperstein says:

    It has been waaayyyyy too long since I came to your site for nourishment. As always, it just hits the spot! Just last night I was looking at my bookshelf and wishing that some of my favorite writers, or musicians like Harry Chapin, could actually run our country for awhile. It’s hard not to believe that someone with the soulful kindness and depth of you or Ram Daas or Leo Buscaglia or James Hollis or Elie Wiesel wouldn’t provoke startling change. We could do worse than Clinton or Obama, for sure, but the biggest problem I see is that to get to the point of success where they are at in our country, it seems you already have to have surrendered up a good portion of your soul to get there in the first place just by the very nature of how D.C. and corporate America works. That’s why John Edwards never got a running start. The one Democrat candidate who wasn’t taken a single cent from lobbyists and was running the only truly Democratic campaign to finally truly address poverty in this country was shot down by his own party. I feel hopeful and disillusioned at the same time, excired and discouraged, afraid to hope sometimes for the future of our country but of course, more afraid to surrender hope altogether. Anyway, it was wonderful to read your writings again tonight. With much fondness! Alex

  6. Tom Doman says:

    Kent: What an awesome message about leadership. I read this right before a meeting with an important colleague at work, and it completely inspired me to think differently about the work we were planning together. I really needed this message, and appreciate so much the power of what you shared. Hope you will blog much more often.

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