Monday, March 03, 2014

Why Are We Afraid of Great Leaders?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation, and the lackluster response from western leaders, must induce all of us to question the suitability of the leaders who rule our countries.

Vladimir Putin ignores Russia's deep problems while invading and threatening his neighbors, causing alarm throughout the world. European statesmen and President Obama make threatening noises but seem impotent during this latest international crisis.

Think of the zeal of millions of voters who rushed to the polls, stood in long lines, and enthusiastically voted for Obama. Judging from recent opinion surveys, many of those people regret voting for him. Yet it was clear during his first term that he was unsuited for the job.

I think of all the famous politicians currently in the US government on both sides of the aisle, and I ask myself, aren't there literally millions and millions of citizens who would make better leaders? McCain, Boehner, McConnell, Pelosi, Reid, Biden.

We elect those with nothing more than a prominent bloodline, like the Kennedys and the Bushes, as if this were a monarchy. And jokers like comedian Al Franken. All unqualified by any honest measure. Yet the prominent names are reelected over and over despite enormous supposed "disapproval" of Congress itself. It's not an accident. The promotion of mediocrity is deliberate.

We settle for individuals we know, deep down inside us, are middling, but probably lower than that. My conclusion is that we don't really want great leaders. We fear them. Bizarrely, what makes us comfortable are rulers like those mentioned above.

Are we intimidated by great leaders? Do we fear they will push things forward and we just aren't ready or up to it? It seems as if great leaders are an anomaly, an accident, and we didn't really mean to have them. But the world around us reflects their inadequacy.

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