Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can 140 Characters Explain A Good Leader?

Explanation of Sound-Bite Mentality: These days if an issue cannot be explained away in 140 characters or less it goes unnoticed by most of America.  Their collective eyes glaze over and their brains go into hibernation mode.
But the problem in our complex world is that nearly every issue takes far more than 140 characters to explain!
Politicians know this all too well and pay marketing firms millions of dollars to condense issues into palatable lengths that basically say nothing except the other guy stinks.
And if a politician decides to change his or her view at some point in the future many of them already have an argument in place to put forth that explains their new feelings, also in quick, hit and run terms.
Explanation of Flip Flop Mentality: Changing ones views on a regular basis to fit the audience in front of whom you are speaking merely for personal or political gain.
This should not be confused with the 'changing his or her views' line above as the person who flip flops generally HAS no real views on the issue and is just pandering.
A politician who uses flip-flops to gain votes should be known as a hypocrite.  This person should lose votes since they cannot be trusted to remain true to whatever current position they claim to espouse.
Explanation of a True and Good Leader: One who listens to all sides; all 140 character points and determines the best course of action BUT knows that should that course prove to be wrong CHANGE!
Now for an explanation of this last explanation.
We had a leader in America who lived and ruled by the phrase "Stay the course."
Sadly that course proved to be wrong and did so with brutal and deadly consequences.  But fearing the label of flip-flopper this man refused to alter his directives and thus condemned many of our youths to death.
And that refusal to react to fact caused more harm to the country and the world economically than he or his friends will admit to this day.
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geitner, speaking about the housing and mortgage crisis told Congress 5 years ago that we cannot allow 'Principle Reduction" as the harm to the banking industry would outweigh the help to home owners.
Last week he changed his view and actually said that we must embrace Principle Reduction.
He is being attacked for changing his views.  The attacks say he is doing so because this is an election year, but then again when is it not an election year?
I wish he would have explained away his previous views better but whether or not Mr. Geitner proves out to be a good leader or a flip-flopper remains to be seen.
One thing is clear, when you change your mind in government you had better be prepared for an onslaught of attack dogs.
Rather than merely coming out and saying the opposite of what you said years ago I believe most Americans would embrace your revelation, right or wrong if it were preceded with an explanation of how and why you arrived at your new position.
There is an entire subculture that will embrace the 'born again' 'rehabilitated' 'I've seen the light' individual.
Perhaps a future leader  who has erred will be allowed to state:
"I truly believed that yada yada yada was the right course of action.  I regret that after seeing it implemented it has not proved out as planned.  However my team and I never stopped monitoring and reviewing all aspects and results of yada and now offer the following fix to perfect the plan.  Give it a chance and we know you will be pleased with the results!"
I understand that in America this person's opponents will jump on the admission for personal gain and use it in their marketing attacks.  The leader may in fact lose his next election as a result but will be able to retire knowing he did the right thing, he was a wise leader.
There is a phrase that comes to mind that many of my generation and younger may know: "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one."
If we as a nation did not allow or embrace change then my home would boast a two horse garage!
Who among us has not changed our mind on something, anything?
Did we not feel that our first choice was a good one only to realize later that it was not?
Did we then stubbornly 'stay the course' just to prove ourselves macho? (Or whatever the female equivalent of macho would be for any ladies reading this.)
I believe no one in their right mind would continue down a path to doom if they realize it in time.  And hopefully given all the facts our leaders would not continue to lead our country down that doomed path either.
So my explanation now becomes a definition - And it actually fits in 140 characters!
A good leader is one who can admit a wrong, a mistake, an error in judgement AND CORRECT IT! A good leader does not blindly stay the course!

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