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26 February 2016
url.jpgYesterday on All Things Considered on NPR an evangelical pastor from Dallas tried to explain why evangelicals are smitten with a thrice-divorced casino mogul who is soft on abortion. His answer was, to me, silly, and nebulous, and exactly why Gideon Strauss earlier this week indicted the American church for weak, toothless discipleship. He basically said that evangelicals are looking for leadership and someone who can solve problems. Any cursory examination of Donald Trump’s life/career would call either of those into question. He can’t solve a marriage, his casinos and hotels have not solved local economies–some have hurt communities around the world (Atlantic City and Aberdeenshire, Scotland are two)–and his leadership is nothing more than a mix of cult-of-personality and fascism.
But the more I listened to the Dallas pastor talk about “leaders,” and the more I have thought about “leadership” as a characteristic since that interview, the less I know what it means. What is leadership? And what is leadership in politics? Does it look different in the military compared to a company compared to the government? I even got so perplexed that I texted Pat “Shoeshine” Rayner, a Lt. Col. in the USAF, what he thought leadership is. His answer, short because he is very rich and very powerful man and doesn’t have a huge amount of time for trifles because, you know, he leads men: “Setting the example, enabling success, developing trust.”
Is leadership of the type that rich and powerful leaders of men like Lt. Col. Pat “Shoeshine” Rayner, USAF, laud and cultivate even matter in politics? I totally get it when it comes to families, militaries, schools, companies and businesses, teams, street gangs, day cares, churches, Mormon isolationists and Michigan Militiamen, etc. But these types of leaders are rarer than not in the White House. And it hasn’t seemed to matter. No one builds a consensus anymore; no one converts enemies away from the Dark Side. You posture-rage against the other guy and worry about re-election.
So does leadership matter to you, or does it seem to you like it does to me that in politics leadership is a largely nebulous trait that sounds good but hasn’t proven itself all that essential?
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it. ~Andrew Carnegie
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shoeshine permalink
    5 March 2016 5:19 pm

    I just returned from an Air Force Commander’s course where we spent five days discussing and listening to presentations on leadership. We were asked to describe an effective leader in one or two words. I went back and forth between ‘service’ and ‘trust.’ I settled on ‘trust’ because I think it encapsulates service.
    Later in the class we watched Colin Powell’s off-the-cuff explanation of effective leadership:

    In response to your question, I strongly believe leadership should be the primary trait we look for in a political candidate. Who do you trust?

  2. 10 March 2016 5:41 pm

    So does that mean that 1) you need to be able to trust your leader or 2) your leader needs to put trust in you, and you will thereby become more trustworthy? And does that mean that a leader CANNOT lead if I don’t trust him/her? (If I don’t trust Rick, but he keeps us alive in the zombie apocalypse, I would still follow him. Probably. #WalkingDead)

    I don’t trust any of them. I actually have GROWN to trust Obama, but would like your take on that, from inside the military. I trust Trump less than I trust Hillary, so she will get my vote. I trust her damage will be less than his.

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