Some back row wanna-be leaders: Richard John Santorum, Michele Marie Bachmann, Timothy James Pawlenty, Willard Mitt Romney. Some front row has-beens: bigot Tom Tancredo, the corpse of Ronald Reagan, waste-oid Sarah Palin, and noxious perennial, Newton Leroy Gingrich.
Leadership is vital to progress. Wisdom, insight, and foresight are indispensable to the endurance of nations. Civilization is never really jeopardized until able leadership begins to vanish. And the quantity of such wise leadership has never exceeded one per cent of the population.
—The Urantia Papers
The old saw, “Every nation has the government it deserves” is nowhere more visibly apparent today than in the United States of America. Our lazy, illiterate electorate has inexorably spawned a toxic brew of political incompetents, sophomoric sex offenders, corporate lackeys, and self-serving money-grubbers so poisonous to our nation’s government, it would seem beyond its ability to recover. Now witness the current plague of rapacious circus clowns vying for the nation’s highest office.
Regressive politics and ruinous political gridlock have left America virtually paralyzed. The collapse of the housing bubble/mortgage crisis continues, as does the financial meltdown that resulted. Incomes for 90% of Americans continue to lag behind inflation; the middle class is destitute. Disastrous climate change looms ever closer; energy and food prices spiral ever upward; and the number of uninsured Americans grow as our rapacious health insurance system continues to financially ravage the very patients it portends to save.
The cultural civilizations of the past and the present have been largely based upon the intelligent cooperation of a nation’s citizenry with its wise and progressive leaders. And until we evolve to considerably higher levels, we will continue to be dependent on the wise and vigorous leadership of a relatively small number of selected human beings.
But where are America’s “great” leaders? Where are the Lincolns, Roosevelts, Eisenhowers and Kennedys of today? Old-fashioned War used to select the innately great men for leadership, but the wars of today no longer do this. To find leaders today, we must now turn to the conquests of peace: industry, science, social achievement.
Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.
—Robert Louis Stevenson
Qualify for public service?? What a concept!
Despite the small and generally retrograde results of electing actors, most of America’s politicians tend to be lawyers. And yet:
“One cannot help but ask the question of what makes a lawyer particularly well-suited to running a country, as opposed to running for office.
Many of our elected officials’ important duties involve running the economy, allocating resources and budgets, and analyzing policies based on their inputs and expected outcomes, yet lawyers have less experience at this than businessmen and economists (the next most common professions in politics).
When it comes to deciding on whether to join a currency union, how to direct a trade negotiation, whether to cut taxes or how to design a social program, lawyers appear dangerously under-qualified compared [to] businessmen and economists.
When it comes to planning for and executing a war, lawyers appear to be dangerously under-qualified compared to ex-military men and women.
When we are confronted with the greatest crises in the world today — global warming, disease, energy scarcity — lawyers appear to be dangerously under-qualified compared to scientists, doctors and engineers. Lawyers tend to have little substantive expertise in any of these areas, and it is their skill at “politics” rather than “policy” that seems to have enabled their political success.”
Almost any good college in America has a political science department. But that’s not remotely the equivalent of a school of statesmanship. Statesmanship can also connote a quality of leadership— exactly what’s missing in the vast majority of political office holders in America. Sadly, the term “statesman” has largely become an honorific, casual way of labeling any public figure who has managed to have a scandal free political career.
In America, you must be adequately and professionally trained before you can legally be employed in even moderately responsible occupations involving the safety and security of other human beings, like driving a train, flying a plane; managing a nuclear power plant. But anyone with a law degree and moneyed connections can hold public office— with responsibility over the lives and welfare of thousands, maybe millions of Americans. There simply are no standards for education when it comes to politicians. (See: Sarah Palin)
One can easily imagine that in a more illumined world, candidates for all public offices must be graduates of an accredited state or federal school of statesmanship. But can you imagine how dramatically an education in statesmanship would improve the quality of our politics?
The values we share as Americans are not necessarily the values of any political party, but per force must ever be derived from the hearts and souls of our people; most especially our leaders. The United States is undergoing a necessary purgation in the wake of what passed for leadership in recent decades; a time that saw seven of the last ten presidents promulgating the values of the Republican Party upon the core values of the nation. The conservative ideas and ideals of the traditionalists may not look so bad on paper, but in practice and in reality they have been an unmitigated disaster for the American people. Progressive change brought by genuine leaders must become a national endeavor.
There’s not much we can do as a race of intelligent creatures if, in fact, those few with the genetic “right stuff” are disappearing from the gene pool, or simply not finding their way to the pathways of political power. Those are the tasks of our celestial overseers. Nevertheless, we must still seek out and find the few men and women of obvious leadership capability and progressive ideas and ideals if we are to save our imperiled nation.