What is a strong leader? It is Not one who equivocates on important issues, paints false pictures and denies responsibility; Not one who wields power to punish all who disagree and tears down others to enhance his self-image. But a strong leader is one who honestly faces challenges, accepts responsibility, gives credit to advisors and acknowledges his mistakes.
We’ve had many strong leaders in our past . . . it showed in JFK’s admitting his mistake regarding the Bay of Pigs and learning to surround himself with people having different perspectives; it was Woodrow Wilson meeting with an array of foreign powers to begin work for international cooperation; it was Barack Obama carrying the country forward without insulting and disparaging the hostile stonewalling from the other party; it was Harry Truman proudly displaying the sign on his desk ‘the buck stops here’; it was FDR’s ability to mobilize every man, woman and child to support the Nation’s war efforts during WWII.
To be a true leader requires character and moral fiber. A leader is one who goes ahead of others leading by example while relying on accurate information, proven knowledge and having the willingness to adapt if the facts determine another approach is necessary. It is a leader’s courage that becomes an inspiration to others.
Dictators are not ‘strong leaders’, they are in fact iron-fisted megalomaniacs who cruelly wield their power to single-handedly demand blind allegiance to their words without recourse to facts, reason or openness to proof. They instill fear in their followers.
At present, the man we have in America’s seat of power, is closer to a dictator than a strong leader. By aggrandizing his personal image while disparaging all other sources of democratic leadership he has weakened the nation’s respect for law and order. He has seeded widespread disrespect for the underpinnings of our democracy by repeatedly insulting and defaming these institutions upon which democracy stands: the free press, intelligence agencies, news media, the voting process, military leadership and scientific findings.
He has failed to deal with this pandemic with decisive action, giving mixed messages, disputing scientific findings, using insulting and disparaging remarks to all who voice a contrary opinion and firing key people who challange him, and even his blatant refusal to wear a face mask shows a level of disrespect for all authority but his own.
His failure to face the coronavirus crisis is but the final demonstration of his incompetence to lead a democratic nation. And his bungling portends a danger to our democracy.
Without strong leadership we watch the demise of our nation in in the eyes of the world and within our country, the crumbling of respect for law and order, inching more and more toward anarchy.
The frightening thing is that is isn't clear that America wants to lead any more. For some, the appeal of Trump was that he was ready to set down the mantle of world leadership and walk away. The US failure to lead in this crisis will be long remembered. Even a better leader will not be able to undo all the damage to the liberal international order. Many American pundits have argued that China is trying to undermine that order. The truth is, we have undermined it ourselves.ReplyDelete