Monday, September 08, 2008

Follow the leader

I have to admit, it's taking everything I have not to blog about the twists, turns, and dramatic revelations of our ongoing Presidential election. The past month has been like a reality TV show, where each new episode features a character doing something that astonishes and/or horrifies me. But because so many awesome writers are already filling pages with articles, op-ed pieces, and blogs about the bizarre state of our Union, I'll back away from the keyboard...

Except to ask this (because I'm curious how other people sort out all the information coming at us): Do you think it's fair to write someone off because you just don't like them as a person? Or because what you see in their personal lives (rather than their political record) indicates that their priorities are vastly different from yours, and that they seem to lack the character you'd want to be led by?

Here's why I'm asking: I've had some interesting experiences with following different types of leaders (if you've read my book, you know about one bestselling New age author in particular, not to mention a disaster of a first husband) whose personal lives turned out to different than what you'd expect based on their shiny public appearance. Ever since then, I've looked at potential leaders with two very specific questions:

1. Do I want to go where they're going?
2. Do I want to end up where they are?

And when I ask this, it's not based entirely on their position regarding potential amendments to the Constitution, or which decisions are best left to local government, but also their personal life: the interrelationships between the people and situations and circumstances closest to them.

Does this play a role for you as you're picking leaders to follow?


Krissy said...

I do think politician's personal lives matter. Which is not to say that I think they should be written off as good political leaders just because they've made personal mistakes--I don't think that. And many good, even great, leaders have had troubled marriages, for example (think Abraham Lincoln). But how a person lives out his/her beliefs and priorities in his/her personal life give us an important piece of the picture of what that person is really made of.

Myowne said...

I actually just posted a blog kind of hinting at this very concern. If you'd like to read my ideas about all this my blog is but to answer your question, I do think it is important to take into consideration a politician's personal life when weighing the option to vote for that person. I don't think we can definitively say if we "like" the person or not since very few of us know these people running for office personally. However, integrity is very important when a person is in a place of leadership, and if that person is not integral with everyday life decisions, then I find it hard to believe that the same person will maintain some semblance of integrity in a public leadership role.

Steve said...

Great blog! I think things are more complicated than they seem. I think we all have different lives at the personal level and professional. Some people are completely different at work than they are in a relationship, for instance. A weakness in a relationship could be a strength in the workplace and vice versa.

I note this because of some of the people who I have taught about in history: Oskar Schindler comes to mind. A terrible husband by every imaginable estimate, but also a man of tremendous character - who sacrificed many things - and saved many lives.

Larramie said...

I'd like to see more objectivity in the reasons we choose our leaders, beginning with LESS media bias. The actual facts are compelling enough, especially with all of these four candidates.

Also, remember one person -- even the leader -- doesn't rule a democracy.

Swishy said...

Ohhh, that is a hard one. Obviously no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. But I think it's hard to separate the personal from the professional, especially when so many of them tout their personal values, morals, choices, etc. as qualifying them professionally. One of the measuring sticks for me is if what they say vs. what they do smacks of hypocrisy--that bothers me more than simple missteps and mistakes.

And then there is Bill Clinton. Sigh.

I know, I am dying to write more about this whole thing too. I probably will once I can get it all straight in my head.

ellesappelle said...

Definitely. Integrity seems to be the biggest thing for me. Their policies... mm well, yeah, they make a difference to who I vote for. But if I feel like I can trust a politician to tell the truth and be open and not slam other politicians just because they're in a different group... that is a huge chunk of how I decide to vote for someone. The problem is, no one in NZ is really standing out at the moment as someone with integrity.

Matěj Cepl said...

Hi, Trish,

four years ago while still in Boston I was playing with myself and some people in the Vineyard a game “whom I would vote for in case I would be eligible to vote”. I was talking about it even with Dave and I came to conclusion (which he apparently didn’t follow), that although Mr. Bush is more attractive to me as a person, the point is not to pick a buddy (or pastor), in which contests he would win hands down, but that the point is to elect a political leader, so that the choice might be different.

Although very big moral deficiency might signify inability to decide well in other non-personal areas of life or makes him so busy that he is not able to spend enough time on deciding the stuff which matters (as somebody claimed happened to Mr. Clinton, who spent most of his second term fighting Monica Lewinski case).

Just my €0.01 (I wish, it is still CZK 0.20) from Prague,

Matěj Cepl

Susie said...

I'm very jaded and turned off by the whole political process. It's bad that I'm already like this in my young age!! I do believe personal lives matter to an extent. Just like, I probably won't get a job if my potential employer sees Facebook photos of me being ridiculously drunk. I think leaders need to know how to carry themselves and morality means a lot to me.

Two Date Diva said...

I struggle with this as well. But I try to keep in mind that none of us have it all figured out. Even if we are high powered politicos or if we are influential religious or spiritual leaders. We are all on the same journey even though we take different paths. We all have parts of our lives that we are consistently working to try to improve whether that be personal or public.

I try to vote based on how well I believe some one can set aside their own political ambitions and desires to do what is right for the nation/world at large.