Leadership and Vision for America...
When I think of leadership, I think of vision... the way things could be, as much as should be. Great leaders like Reagan, Gorbachev, Trudeau, King, Kennedy, Churchill, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Franklin and so on, were visionaries. When I think of what we need in the world today, it is more great visionaries.
When I think of management on the other hand, one of the things I also think about is 'watching my six'... to the past so there can be 'incremental improvement' in the future. The problem I have with some of the Presidents and Prime Ministers in the past is that they thought of themselves as managers. Sometimes, even those who thought of themselves as great managers were terrible, even at that relatively easy task... Bush, Mulroney, Eden, Buchanan, and so many others. And almost always they are also terrible visionaries.
It is interesting that those with great visions, that became great, seem to be the ones that also understand how important it is to hire the great managers (secretaries of state, treasury, and commerce; chiefs of staffs; ministers of finance, defense and environment), challenge them with visions, and let them accomplish goals.
It is also interesting that some visionaries are not necessarily apparent before they burst onto the scene... Trudeau, Churchill, and Lincoln to mention a few. And in each case, their past was not vetted with a flea comb... because they were visionaries, often counter to the status quo, and that was enough to give them a chance in times when their respective countries were in deep problems.
I didn't go for Obama easily... frankly, I wanted to see Hillary Clinton become America's Iron Lady, a la Margaret Thatcher. I thought that her contacts internationally, and in the senate would allow her to manage the world scene well, and get the country headed to the center and forward; out of the funk it finds itself in, so far, this century. With time however, I began to realize that she is not a visionary... even her healthcare program was a mish-mash.
I began thinking about a concern that even most Americans don't know where they need to go... I am not even certain we know where we are... and that somehow we need to find a new True North. That to me means a compete make-over, based on our country's constitutions and the accomplishments of past visionaries... but with new visions.
I remembered how challenged I was by Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention four years ago... he really made me think, and I said to myself, WOW, this guy has a different view of America and the world... and therefore a different vision, one we may want to get behind... some day...
So, I recently, very recently, started listening to him. I find that he has an expansive vision! Great visions not only for America, but also for the world with America as a partner in it. I find that he realizes that there needs to be changes to the way we all think... the vertical hierarchy that is getting us into trouble as we grow in world population to >6 Billion souls no longer will sustain the world order, in peace.
I believe that if our children and grand children are to survive with a semblance of what we have been allowed, from a material point of view... we have to change our ways in the world, because the world is going to change with, or without us. Our leader in America needs a new vision of how to lead America in the new world order... one that allows us to benefit from our great past, yet adjust to the new realities. The alternatives probably look like Greece, Rome, Austria...
So, after he beat Hillary, I looked at his campaign... the managers who figured out how to beat Hillary in the caucus states; to raise untold monies from the grass-roots; communicate with young people; and so on... all through technology that I don't begin to understand... with managers that he had the good vision to hire.
He has traits of leadership that may need to be developed, maybe also nourished by us. He has understood that he needs people at his side who will facilitate his fast-track education as did Bill Clinton on some issues. The major challenges can be helped out with people... like Biden, who can introduce him to the people in the world who can make the decisions we need them to make, for peace sake, and ensure they stick. Like Richardson who can help him with energy and the environment; and like Clinton who can help him survive the torrent of hate and attacks that will come from the right.
I also like the fact that he is very smart... you don't get to edit the Harvard Law Review by being fifth last in your Annapolis Class. As a minority I think he broke through one very thick glass ceiling with that honor from Harvard. I think he has good moral fiber in having a strong wife; in supporting his Mother and Grand Parents; in working in the Chicago housing projects when he could have worked on Madison Avenue; in experimenting with and rejecting drugs and violence. I think he is an achiever, and one who knows where he is going, how to get there... and probably where to go after that...
I look at the personal attacks on him for his youth (he is only 47) and experience and voting record in the Senate... and I say to myself that he was brilliant for not having voted on many of the inconsequential decisions in the Senate... he needed to learn the ropes, so why vote when you don't understand the options well enough... I am happier knowing that he didn't vote based on party dogma. Sometimes not doing something is far better than making major mistakes. Has he made mistakes? Of course he has... I didn't like the way he handled his minister's outbursts; or even his long stay in his church congregation without pushing for changes. But I do like that he is able to be philosophical when he errs... like he will in the future.
I think about the fear that republicans seem to have when they think of someone who really has the cohunes to stand and fight for the middle class. Someone who understands that trickle-down economics may be the reason we are Ten Trillion Dollars in debt as a nation and another Fifteen Trillion Dollars in debt when you add in the unsecured credit card chits we have. We have become so fixated on material things that we can't see the future... the past is with us as long as we keep looking back (we have to fix it, but it will take a new vision of the future to make up for the past, not more of the same)!
I like that he understands where we are in our economy, has the fortitude to admit where we are, and the smarts to find people to get our feet firmly back under us so we can get traction into the future.
I like his position on energy and the environment. I see him thinking that overcoming their problematic situations through challenging the country as others have... to fess-up to our problems, understand them, and overcome them... like Roosevelt with the Manhatten Project; Kennedy with the Moon Mission; Churchill with the Never Give Up Ideal; Ghandi, King and Mandela with peaceful resistance and so on... not by looking back and ruminating on what we have done wrong and who's to blame.
These are the reasons that I like Obama... but I won't vote in the USA, so it is unimportant... I will vote in Canada in the October 14th, 2008 election. I have already started to write in my blog ( blueknowser.blogspot.com ) about the way I will make my decision here. I am not supposed to vote in both countries (only the one where we are resident six months and a day) so I will not abuse the privilege we have of dual citizenship.
It is interesting however to understand that it is generally thought in Canada that the Prime Minister has decided to go to the polls now, before the USA ballots are counted, because it is generally expected that Obama will prevail, and that would doom the right-wing Canadian Conservative Party were they to wait until next year to call the election... our Prime Minister has had his wagon hitched so close to Bush's 'Elephant in a China Shop' Wagon that when it lifts it's tail... well, you understand.
Soooo my friend, while I think there will be politics as usual in the Obama camp, in order to battle the inevitable attacks and resistance to change... it will be the first steps to where we need to go. That's what I think, and why I have made up my mind... even though I need to do more to make up my mind, here. I hope there will be a landslide of optimism toward a visionary... and if another one appears... let it be... we need more vision...
we need to go deep and wide!
Warm wishes and continued friendship