Saturday, April 26, 2008

Leader of the Band

Here we are again, continuing our seeming never ending journey of how to find the good candidate or office holder. Now a good candidate should be someone who would make a good leader (Why elect them otherwise?), so this time I would like on what it means to be a leader. Oh brother, this means we better go back again to the Merriam Webster dictionary to discover the meaning of the word "leader". (Will it never end?) A leader is: 

A blank section at the beginning or end of a reel of film or recorded tape 
Many political candidates could be considered to be the equivalent of a blank piece of tape (or an empty suit, take your pick), but I'm not sure that's who I should want to pick for the running of the country.

Something for guiding fish into a trap 
The concept of guiding seems like a good one to me, except of course, if you're the fish. Many times I feel like candidates are attempting to lead me into a trap that they will spring on me after being elected, and that they believe that I am too dumb to see it coming. Some actually manage to fool me. Sorry, but I can't see this as a quality to be sought in a used car salesman, let alone a political candidate.

A first or principal performer of a group 
This too has a certain ring of truth to it. The concept of candidate and performer has come up before in our research, and while actors have become politicians (and vise-versa), I would prefer someone who isn't "performing". While I believe that acting like a leader is important, I don't believe that it's the same thing as being one. I suspect that it isn't.
A horse placed in advance of the other horses of a team 
Well, political parties could be considered as teams, their candidates are the ones up front, and these are called "races" after all. But while this is clever as a word game, I'm not sure I want to play the ponies with the future of my government at stake. Besides, who decides who gets to do the placing? (... and when we are talking about political candidates are we placing horses or just their asses out front?)

A person who has commanding authority or influence 
This probably comes as close to the truth we are looking for as anything, though it scares me. It seems to me to smack of the cult of personality in candidate selection. Again, this is something that we have seen time and time again in politics; and if this is our definition we should be afraid. Past journeys down this road have led to unpleasant destinations. (Napoleon and Hitler come to mind in the category of such mistakes.)

Man, I am really starting to wonder about this whole search. Every time we define a quality that should be admirable or necessary in a political candidate, we either can't define it in any meaningful way or the definitions that we can find are ones that we wouldn't care to have in a candidate. I am beginning to question my reasons for continuing this search. 
(But have no fear, I will pick this up again in two weeks ...) 


Hooda Thunkit said...


Maybe this year you should be looking at the desired characteristics of a good (purely subjective here) weasel.

For all practical purposes, that's what we have to choose from. . .

Maggie Thurber said...

Perhaps the problem in defining is that you haven't properly phrased the question (shades of "Hitchhiker's Guide" here)...

We're not necessarily looking for a 'leader' as much as an executive - at least when it comes to the positions of president or governor or mayor.

So, what tasks must the individual perform and what skills are needed to properly perform those tasks?

Personally, I think these three elected positions are more like a CEO position with the myriad of duties and responsibilities being very similar and comparable.

Having defined the duties and responsibilities, then the skills necessary, we're in a much better position to evaluate the potential applicants.

But, that's just me, looking at things from a logical, practical standpoint and that perspective has absolutely nothing to do with politics nor the environment in which such decisions are made.



Tim Higgins said...


You might be right, but I am choosing to take this thing on as a true quest. Of course in this election cycle, it may turn out more like "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", but so be it.

Tim Higgins said...


My access to Deep Thought has been severely limited since moving to Toledo. (The computer,not the process, for those unfamiliar with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

I am going to question your redefinition however (in spite of it's insight and logic) because of the contradiction in terms that it implies. How could the same qualities that make someone capable of running an evil corporation be the ones that would allow someone to head up the compassionate government that we are told we need?

No, the person that you are talking about would streamline bureaucracies, reduce costly regulations, and eliminate waste. The next thing you know we would have a government operating with a profit (you know, budget surplus). We wouldn't want that, would we? :-)

Maggie Thurber said...

Ah, yes, Tim...

I see the error of my ways in terms of the logic and reasoning I have proffered.

What was I thinking???

Tim Higgins said...

On the the other hand Maggie, I understand that Zaphod Beeblebrox is currently looking for a new gig. While it would certainly be a step down from his most recent job, he does seem to embody the qualities that we desire in a mayor.

I'm just sayin' ...