Thursday, September 11, 2008


Elections of any stripe induce, in my opinion, some of the fuzziest thinking known to humankind. Why? Because the very first thing that seems to come to the fore in political parties when an election is called is STRATEGY. And what’s wrong with that, you might ask? Don’t we all strategize our way through life in many areas, both great and small?
Yes, we do. In making any decision we have to weight the pros and cons. What to study, if anything, where to live, what kind of job if any, what to eat, what to wear, when to procreate, whether to procreate, when and where to retire, the list is endless. And agonizing. But there is one area where I think strategy simply doesn’t deliver. And that’s in politics.
Politics, you say? But politicians spend endless hours over strategies. In fact, one can almost say that strategies are the entire composition of most political parties. First, a political party tests the polls, find out what the voters want (and the party knows who the voters actually are) and promise to make the most vocal majority want that is expressed a priority, whatever that is, next find out what voters are actually worried about, then cook up the strategy that can be spun like a glistening spider web moist from a fresh fallen dew, into a soothing balm for whatever has caused the voter’s fretfulness, and while all of this may actually win votes because it’s true and tried good politics, the concept of leadership becomes a farce.
But what exactly is leadership if it isn’t cruising the polls and creating strategies? What do people mean when they ask for leadership? Is it a rote learning of a poll driven policy spoken in a firm, authortive voice? Or is it something else, something almost indescrible, something…dare we say it? Something almost spiritual? Something that stirs our innermost desires to connect more fully with each other, the natural world, and an almost but not quite conscious yearning for a personal place, a real place in the contribution to the evolution of human consciousness? But when I speak or write in this way I am sometimes cautioned that I am trying to drag a religious element into the political arena.
Nonsense. We have been so indoctrinated with different religions that we think that patrichal religions own spirituality. None of them do. Spirituality is the way we live our lives, not what church we belong to, so we all have a spiritual life of sorts already. Most people realize this. Okay, then what I leadership? What is a leader?
If I knew I would tell you. I only know what a leader isn’t. A leader isn’t sailing under false pretense, isn’t pretending to know something he or she doesn’t know, isn’t so fearful and frightened they must make back room deals in secret, doesn’t think the ends justify the means, doesn’t believe in autocracy, and who does, honestly, and truthfully, believe in equality, not only of civil and social and legal rights, but of equal rights to the resources of the county in which we all reside. And that means equality to the money that these resources generate.
In other words, a leader somehow is more interested in the egalitarian ideals he or she is harboring than in the opinion polls and political strategy. And maybe this is why we have so few political leaders who inspire us. They have mostly been made spiritually skinny by staring at the polls and too fat headed struggling with strategies.
There. Now haven’t I been helpful today?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Betty,

    You set the bar high for leadership. So few political leaders inspire us simply because so few of the type you describe run for office. They're wise (or spiritual?) enough to understand just how thoroughly corruptive power can be and thus avoid it, preferring instead to go the radical route or take the grassroots community approach (and become, in the process, possibly inspiring yet certainly politically powerless).

    Politics are such that even possibly inspiring leaders who hold ostensibly egalitarian and humanitarian values are forced into backroom dealings and compromises that are contrary to their own values if they aim to survive in that arena (a goal they reach by strategizing). It's a no-win situation for this type of candidate. Ultimately, we, the electorate, lose by being saddled with an unappetizing buffet of tepid and flavourless political candidates. It's ever the same story.

    Great blog, Betty. By the way, and belatedly, I wish you a happy 80th birthday. Here's to your next 80 years! May you never be silent!