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Ever since the system of representative government (a.k.a. “democracy”) became the government system of choice in most the Western World, we have come to assume that it is “a government for the people by the people,” as was eloquently expressed by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address.

We need more leaders and less politicians! If I were the type to go out and picket or blandish placards at some demonstration or other, this is the one that I would carry.

The United States is a republican democracy, where the citizens choose the leaders of their country. The word "republic" is derived from the Latin phrase res publica, which can be translated as "a public affair." A republic in the modern understanding is a nation or state where the people are sovereign. (Wikipedia). A representative democracy that emphasizes individual liberty is called a liberal democracy. This also is a characteristic of the U.S. democracy. One would think, by looking at these two characteristics of our form of government, that Republicans as well as Democrats (or “liberals” as they are being characterized nowadays—in a somewhat derogatory way), ought to be on the same page as far as principles and ideas (and ideals) of governance are concerned.

Ideally, this would be the case. However, over time these original concepts have evolved into partisanships, and the two have become irreconcilably polarized. One of the main characteristics of a democracy is that of “the majority rule.” Paradoxically, this is what also causes large segments of the population to NOT be represented by the leadership that happens to be in power thus finding itself oppressed by a “tyranny of the majority,” (except during the 2004 U.S. presidential elections when it was clear that the majority was NOT in favor of re-electing Bush).

What does this have to do with the quality of leadership, one may ask? Well, since we are—for better or worse—saddled (or blessed—you decide which) with this form of government, it would behoove us to do our utmost to elect leaders who be models of such qualities:

Integrity: honesty, soundness of moral character, acting according to one's inner values;
Dedication: commitment to an ideal or a cause;
Magnanimity: give credit to those who merit it and take responsibility for one's own failures;
Humility: recognize that one is no better or worse than others in one's team; understand that one's status does not make one intrinsically superior;
Openness: ability to listen to new ideas; accept new ways of doing things;
Creativity: ability to think differently, to lead in new directions;
Fairness: evaluate all sides before passing judgment, not leaping to conclusions;
Assertiveness: ability to state what is expected with clarity without leaving room for misunderstanding;
Sense of humor: ability to relieve tension and defuse hostility;

When I chose to vote for President Obama, I did so because I recognized in him the qualities of a good leader, not a politician. I haven't been disappointed yet.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible these days to find these characteristics in most of our members of Congress, the consummate politicians. Partisanship continues to cloud decision-making, continues to impede the progress of ideas that would prove beneficial for the country as a whole; it is the single most cause of discord among elected officials and their followers. Today we are being held hostage by “professional politicians,” committed to push their party's agendas regardless of merit. They are unable to recognize any merit on the other party's ideas, and thus their scale of values becomes completely skewed. No longer can we trust those who have been chosen to represent us, therefore they no longer represent us.

This is why I feel so despondent and discouraged about the upcoming parliamentary elections in November; I'm afraid that the two elements of a perfect storm will be present then: (a) complete apathy on the part of the voting populace who will choose not to even bother to cast their vote—whichever side of the fence they may be on—or will just follow along with the loudest, flashiest slogan that happens to catch their attention, not bothering to verify facts before casting their vote (and we all know who is doing the most screeching these days, right?); and (b) due to the unprecedented Supreme Court ruling about campaign financing a few months ago—another wonderful legacy from from our fine-feathered ex-prez Bush—a whole lot of money will be poured into political campaigns that will boost the positions of those who will obviously favor corporate interests and moneyed clans; this will complete the vicious circle (back to [a]). So there you go. What are the chances of getting some real leadership in Congress this time around? None or next to nil.

Originally posted to haydemon on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 07:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

    M.Hayden "The politics of resentment are impervious to facts."

    by haydemon on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 07:27:38 PM PDT

  •  leaders are hard to come by for sure (0+ / 0-)

    even the best are "all too human, alas"

    but yes, the bipartisan process does tend to ossify things to a level where 'democracy' doesn't seem to really exist. Some say that getting rid of the bipartisan thing and having many parties would improve matters, I wonder if that's the case?

    •  It was tried in Chile (0+ / 0-)

      During the 50s & 60s there were about 10 different parties! Some leaning to the right, some to the left. In the end, they consolidated into a leftist coalition (Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia), an ultra right-wing (Unidad Democratica Independiente-UDI), and Renovacion Nacional, right-wing leaning. There still are a couple of other minor parties, but having a bunch of smaller parties only dilutes the issue and clutters the political zenith.

      M.Hayden "The politics of resentment are impervious to facts."

      by haydemon on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:11:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reality, not despondency... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is the only responsible response to an accurate understanding of the current context.  Your sentiments are all, to say the least, beautiful and passionate.  

    However, both in terms of empirical understanding and in terms of cohesive analysis, calling the United States a 'liberal democracy' and seeing a true polarization between Democrats and Republicans' is, I believe one can demonstrate persuasively, in error.

    A 'liberal democracy' cannot have a 'Patriot Act' that permits a Star-Chamber substitution for trial-by-jury at the drop of a hat, for example.  A 'liberal democracy' cannot conduct imperial war after imperial war over the course of decades, almost all of which a significant, or even a vast, majority of citizens oppose.  A 'liberal democracy' cannot institute a rule of money without compunction as recently transpired through the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. the FEC.  Believe me, the interested observer could go on, and on, and on, almost ad infinitum, in showing the knee-jerk wrongheadedness in ascribing 'liberal' values to America's current political practices.

    As to the appearance of opposition between the GOP and the Dem's, at the level of the National Parties, both organizations receive close to a hundred per cent of their support from Political Action Committees, the wealthy, and corporate sources, the only truly obvious--and, admittedly, excellent source of difference, the union backing for the party of FDR.  In terms of policy, every aspect of what good hearted people such as you hate about American policy--whether it is support for a brutal dictator such as Pinochet or promulgating a Prison Industrial Complex in lieu of educating children, or any of the other absurdly anti-'liberal' aspects of contemporary America--originates or receives support from Democrats and Republicans alike, from Harry Truman and Ike to Bill Clinton and 'W,' and now, Barack-the-Magnificent, who is, as you point out, a truly magnificent human being, even if he is, in terms of his policies, nothing better than a clever corporate flack, in my estimation.

    So what's to despair about?  We merely need to get more involved, at the grassroots level, to truly liberalize and democratize our society, and then the sense of angst and ennui will vanish like a morning mist, and if Barack Obama is truly our leader, he will follow our lead.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:17:46 PM PDT

    •  I didn't say it; they said it... (0+ / 0-)

      That the U.S. is a "liberal democracy" is what its form of government has been called by those who write the Civics books; not by me. In other words, what it IS and what it's SUPPOSED TO BE are entirely two different things these days. I agree with you there. My point is precisely that it is NOT a representative form of government anymore if things like, as you point out, the Patriot Act come to pass. As the pendulum swings towards fundamentalism and extremism IN this country--supposedly the bastion of freedom and tolerance, (ha!)--it will be a cold day in hell before we can achieve the state of nirvana that you propose, grassroot movements notwithstanding.

      M.Hayden "The politics of resentment are impervious to facts."

      by haydemon on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:36:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But people such as you... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quil se passe

        ...are the only true bastions of freedom and tolerance in the world.  All we need do, all we can do, all we must do, is find a way to work together to put our voices and bodies in unison.  People like you, at least outside the U.S. are the vast majority; inside the U.S., perhaps we are a minority, but we are NOT a tiny minority, meaning that we must organize and collectivize our efforts until the others around us see the error of their ways.

        In other words, as Mother Jones said just before she died to those who wailed her passing, "Don't mourn, organize!"

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 08:42:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  it is what is said because it sounds nice (0+ / 0-)

        like all the yahoos into Glenn Beck and, hell, anything else ppl get into - those who benefit from popular buy-in put a lot of effort into making ppl believe

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