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Leadership & the Super Committee

It’s been a while since I’ve weighed-in on the political front, and with the recent failure of the Budget Super Committee, I thought it would be an interesting time to examine the difference between statesman and politician.  I don’t know about you, but I’m so fed-up with the rhetoric and the gamesmanship in Washington that I’m about ready to give-up on all politicians. Our country was founded by great statesmen, and somewhere along the way we turned our nation over to a bunch of self-serving politicians. While the term political leadership may have become an oxymoron, it is simply impossible to be a statesman and not be a leader…

It has been said that a politician is concerned with winning an election, and a statesman is concerned with future generations. The politician makes speeches and promises motivated by pride, ego, notoriety, power, position, stature, and personal success. Contrast this with a statesman who keeps commitments, is motivated by service above and beyond self, and by making a lasting positive difference. The true statesmen is a breath of fresh air whose only pursuit is to improve the welfare of those they serve regardless of public opinion, or self-interest.

With unemployment still out of control, our nation adding more than $4 Billion dollars a day to our budget deficit, and no hope in sight for true change vs. promised change,  it is far past the time for business as usual in Washington. Our nation racked up more debt during the time that the Super Committee was in session than they were charged to eliminate in the first place. Leadership isn’t about creating committees, it’s about making tough decisions, and getting things done that accomplish the mission. Leadership isn’t an absentee business, leadership isn’t about giving speeches, leadership isn’t about placing blame, leadership isn’t about the leader – it’s about those whom the leader serves.

I did something interesting last night which I’d suggest you do as well….I researched the cabinet members of our first 10 Presidents and compared them with our current cabinet members, and what I found simply confirmed the sentiments that I described above. Without listing all 10 cabinets just take a look at the comparison between George Washington’s cabinet and Barack Obama’s cabinet and you’ll see why I’m so frustrated…

President: George Washington  vs. Barack Obama
Vice President: John Adams vs. Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense: Henry Knox vs. Leon Panetta
Secretary of State: Thomas Jefferson vs. Hillary Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury: Alexander Hamilton vs. Timothy Geithner
Attorney General: Edmund Randolph vs. Eric Holder
* I only included cabinet positions that existed during Washington’s era for direct comparison purposes.

Do you see the difference yet between politicians and statesmen? Perhaps the most telling failure surrounding the Super Committee was the absence of our president during the process. Rather than leading by attending to the business of the nation, our president was campaigning. Can anyone reading this post truly imagine Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, etc., not being fully engaged in bringing resolve to matter? When our nation’s leader is more concerned about winning a second-term in office than leading our nation forward we all have pause for concern. We simply need to restore principled leadership in Washington. Our nation needs serious people to step-up during serious times. What we need is to send home disingenuous politicians (republicans, democrats & independents alike) and replace them with true statesmen.

In the end, my message to those on Capitol Hill is a simple one – do the right thing regardless of partisanship, compromise is honorable where it serves a greater good, and remember that leadership is about the people you serve and not self-interest. All of our nation’s politicians should take to heart the message that those leaders not accountable to their people, will eventually be held accountable by their people. If there are any true statesmen left on Capital Hill, it would be a great time for them to show themselves…

I welcome your comments below, but let’s try and focus on the big picture and not partisan quibbling.

 

Image credit: Boston University

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    Dan Collins

    November 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Mike,

    As you know I have a tremendous respect for your insights.   With that said I believe you are being too kind to the current crop of ‘politicians’ in your analysis. This simple guy believes it all boils down to spine and blame. Whenever we blame or our focus turns to what others are doing, whether it be obstructionist, pursuit of a different agenda, or whatever, those without spine focus on those issues instead of our own responsibility to seek an inclusive resolution that serves the greater good. The leader I trust, respect and admire is one who NEVER blames. A leader with spine recognizes that it is not what others do, or do not do, that matters ~ It’s what WE do. I say to them all “Be the friggin change” and exhibit true leadership. Let me know when you see one who does this ~ he, or she, will have mine, and I’m sure every other disenfranchised voters undying gratitude and support.

      Avatar

      Mike Myatt

      November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Dan:

      Thanks for weighing in so passionately – a trait of a true leader, and a trait indicative of someone who cares. I apologize for being too kind :). Thanks Dan.

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        Dan Collins

        November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        Thanks Mike – and certainly a trait that precludes me from politics 🙂

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        Dan Collins

        November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        Thanks Mike – and certainly a trait that precludes me from politics 🙂

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    Ron

    November 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I received an email yesterday comparing the super committee to two drunks on the Titanic arguing over a bar tab.

    Sadly, your observations regarding office-holders today may also be applied with equal force to the general population; and I’m not as sanguine as yourself that they’ll insist on accountability in leaders until they incorporate it into their own lives and stop voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Ron

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      Mike Myatt

      November 22, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Well said Ron. From my perspective “accountability” is not a matter of if, but when – and when is long overdue. Thanks for sharing Ron.

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      Mike Myatt

      November 22, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Well said Ron. From my perspective “accountability” is not a matter of if, but when – and when is long overdue. Thanks for sharing Ron.

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    Jenifer Olson

    November 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Mike,

    Some good thoughts here – you’ve given voice to what many of us are feeling!

    However, my thinking is until politicians are barred from receiving funds and privileges from special interest groups… and until they are prevented by law from benefiting financially from insider knowledge… I don’t see how we can help but have the types of politicians we have now. Sadly, even those who enter political office as statesman are often corrupted by money and power once in office. Our system needs better checks and balances for those we elect to leadership positions, and that’s hard to do when they’re writing the laws. 

    I also question whether the US needs to think about stricter term limits. Maybe if Congress didn’t need to worry about being reelected, they’d stand a better chance of doing the right thing during the time they have in office. 

    Thanks,
    Jenifer @jenajean:twitter

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      Mike Myatt

      November 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Jenifer:

      I cannot dispute any of the thoughts/concerns you expressed. Thanks for sharing them.

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    Jordan DH Shaw

    November 24, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I didn’t expect a post about government from you, but what’s here is just as valuable as your usual content. I’ve been looking for a name to represent what I support, and “statesman” fits the bill.

    I completely agree with what you’re saying.

    No offense meant to @9b05c3f52c0467874b6c99cb34ed5e7c:disqus , but I think that a true statesman wouldn’t back down from identifying blame; Rather, they would also take their fair share of it, and then immediately move on to solution-making.

    What makes a statesman great is their devotion to preserving and improving the good.

    That truths leads me to somewhat disagree with @twitter-16690175:disqus .

    Reforms are needed, but it’s the *people* who make the difference. It is *our* responsibility to get informed and find the *statesmen* who should be representing us. Once they are in office, there won’t be a question about whether or not reform happens.

    The recent ‘adage’ of “We went to change Washington, and Washington changed us.” wouldn’t be uttered by worthy representatives.

    Ron Paul is evidence of that. I think he’s wrong about a lot of things, but he hasn’t changed his focus or character throughout his terms. 

    People can choose not to change.

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    hiep

    June 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I also question whether the US needs to think about stricter term
    limits. Maybe if Congress didn’t need to worry about being reelected,
    they’d stand a better chance of doing the right thing during the time
    they have in office.

    Thanks,
    http://www.elines.vn/ve-may-bay-di-ha-noi.aspx

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