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As Long as We Remember...

May 21, 2009

The Cradle of True Leadership

Farrell Keough

I enjoy a number of talk radio shows from our local ones to Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Of course, these national shows have a strong leaning towards conservatism. I am okay with that.


But what is it that makes these shows gain listenership and remain interesting? I would posit it is two things:


(1) They are topical – they deal with the stories of the day.


(2) They remain consistent to their ideology. Those who speak on these programs know what they believe and consistently repeat it in interesting ways.


Topical discussions are important, but one must keep in mind that we live in a 24/7 news cycle and important issues and occurrences are soon forgotten. What makes for a well-spoken person is someone who remembers previous events and integrates those events into the news of the day.


But, most important is ideology! It is easy to speak on various topics and take the populist viewpoint. The problem with this lack of strong ideology is that when the tough decisions are forwarded, there is no underlying core to call upon when deciding what you believe.


Many will say this person or that person is an ideologue. In a few cases, that may be true. But more often than not, it is the core values and beliefs which differentiate those people we trust and those we simply know.


For instance, President Ronald Reagan lost a number of elections before he became our commander-in-chief. Did President Reagan slink away in failure? No! He studied issues, knew his beliefs, wrote about it, and discussed it on the radio. He was not an accident; he made himself the leader he became.


President Reagan knew his ideology and formed his positions around that ideology. But, he also understood the need for wise compromise. As has been pointed out recently, had it not been for Rep. Jack Kemp, the concept of Reaganomics may never have come to fruition.


So, what point am I trying to make?


All of our representatives need to take note of how true leadership works. A listening tour is not how leadership works. A speaking tour could be. We need to hear from our representatives in person, in writings, on the radio, etc.


We need to know why they vote the way they do. More often than not, we get a partial understanding from the press. That is not enough! We have a yearning for true leadership and these people have worked hard to get elected. They have a podium the rest of us do not enjoy. To that end, they have a responsibility to their constituents to explain precisely what they believe.


Is this time consuming? Yes, it is.


Is this necessary? Yes, it is.


The reasoning is simple. If our representatives tell us their positions on a regular basis, we will begin to understand their true core values. If they write in political double-speak, it will soon become evident that their core values may not be well defined. If they make a decision that seems out of step with our perceptions of them, we need to fully comprehend their reasoning.


But, there is an additional value that is often overlooked. When you write something out, you are forced to think it through. This sharpens one’s mind and their reasoning skills. Hence, there is a two-fold benefit to this process.


(1) The public learns the back story and why this or that decision was not out of line with the person’s core values.


(2) The representatives learn to focus on their core values which guide their decision-making process. This does not mean they cannot make compromise. But they will better understand how a compromise must still follow their core values.


All of us have busy lives, including our representatives. But all of us do have the ability to make time for those things which are important. Asking this of our representatives is not beyond their capacity. If they are not good wordsmiths, (or write too much), then call into the radio.


And this brings us full circle. One of the major aspects of radio talk show hosts that garner an audience is their ability to continuously focus on core values. We must not allow ourselves to buy into the crisis du jour. If we have an established set of core values, we have a basis on which to judge our understanding and decision making process.

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