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.