Friday, February 22, 2008

We are electing an attitude

In the early 1970's I worked for a United States Senator in Washington, D.C. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and the most educational.

Senator Charles Goodall of New York was appointed to fill the remaining term of Senator Robert Kennedy. He got the office and the staff that Kennedy had built. They were a dedicated and intelligent group of youth who and followed Kennedy's lead for change. Had he lived and been elected president they would no doubt have been on his presidential staff.

In those years leading up to the embarrassment of having a leader of our country resign because of crimes against the country I had two examples of what is good and what is bad in government. Goodall listened to his staff and Nixon dictated to his staff.

There is no way any one person can know every aspect of every issue facing a state as large as New York or Illinois or Texas let alone the United States of America. There are those that would argue we have become so large and diverse we would function better as a federation of nation states. The only way to attempt to do what is best for this country is to listen to trusted advisers that have at heart the good of the citizens of this country. To do that you need to have an open mind and an ability to inspire, not rule.

Our present president wants to rule. It is his way or the highway. He listens to only those few advisers he refuses to replace regardless of the advise they give him. And I am not that sure if at the moment he listens to them. We do not need another eight years of someone that is so damn sure they are right that they argue with everyone about everything.

Now more than ever in the history of this country the leader needs to listen. Listen to the woes of the citizens, listen to the division in our country and the world, listen to other world leaders, listen to scientists and educators, and come to a decision about the direction to be taken and inspire the congress and the people of this nation to follow him or her.

We need someone that can build consensus, rally the various factions to work together, and open dialog with the enemies created by G.W.Bush. The days of leaders like Teddy Roosevelt is gone. There is no San Juan hill to be charged up. We need leaders with a predisposition to listen and negotiate and change if necessary or change the opinions of the electorate if that is necessary. We need leaders that can pick staff and advisers for their intelligence and knowledge; not for their ability to click their heels and salute.

The primary process is meant to be difficult and prolonged. some say it be nice if we could all vote in a national primary on one day, but would we have learned enough about those running in that short time? Our primary system stresses our candidates so we get to see how they behave under pressure. How their staffs behave under pressure. How well everyone works as a team. If you cannot make nice with your opponent how can you negotiate with a potential enemy to avoid a war. Bombing them, with words or weapons, is the easy choice. Reducing everything to a one liner like Flip Flopper is taking the easy way out. We want and need someone this time around that cannot only talk and inspire, but listen and find common ground.

We are not seeking a Republican or Democrat, woman or man, white or black. We are seeking a leader with the right attitude; one that is well aware they do not know everything.