Whatever modern system is in place and whoever rises to the position of controlling that system, the public seem to find a perverse pleasure in criticising it. Eavesdropping on any small group of people in a public place, one may catch a sound-bite of the general mood of the in-crowd.

Of course the old adage of ‘you can only please some of the people some of the time’ will always apply, but the voting system should guarantee for us that those in office are there by the grace of the majority. I say ‘should’, but even in our so-called democracy the sliding percentage of those who vote, divided by those who vote for the party that gets in, reduces down to a probable 10-15% of the population. No wonder the majority are discontented! Whatever happened to ‘One Man-One Vote’?

Why does our electoral system fail us so badly? Ask a non-voter, like myself, why I don’t use my right to vote (in the political sense, for I use my right to choose in every other way) and be part of the democratic choice of parliamentary leaders, the answer I would give is this:

“When I see a person who nominates him/herself to be the leader of my country, evoking great feelings of confidence, trust, enthusiasm for working as a social group, and excitement for designing the social life-styles and environmental atmosphere that will please the real majority, then I will vote. Show me a true leader with real vision, heart and soul.”

I want to see a real Leader Personality step forward and say “Tell me what it is that you think, what you need, what you would like to see happen, or change, and I will be your spokesperson and the captain of that ship. I will find the way to make that happen.”

It seems that this is what Barak Obama has achieved, versus what Gordon Brown has not.

Now that is not a personal like or dislike of the men. (I have yet to meet either of them and get to know them as humans.) It is, rather, an observation of how these two top politicians have realised the public opinion of their electorate, and the different moods of that electorate. Sometimes the person stepping forward to take the helm is a ‘born leader’ and sometimes he is not, regardless of whether the man himself is of any worth or not.

Take Hitler for example. How did that man get the following he obviously had? What is not generally known is that he was continuing a trend in central and east Europe to ethnically cleanse itself from the Jewish members of their population?  Hitler became known for doing that, by the way that he decided to do it. Others before him had quietly moved the Jewish people along, to be someone else’s problem. Hitler just decided to eradicate them. So was he leading his country in the way that the general public wanted him to? Or did he at some point flip from being a leader to being a genocidal dictator?

And ‘Joe Blogs’? Where is the man nobody knows, who knows everything that needs to be known about being a true prime civil servant? No-one has heard of him and he is no-where to be seen. He has the knowledge but not the leadership.

Leadership probably has more to do with showmanship than politics. A good leader needs to have a charismatic public-speaking personality – one that will engage the listening ear of his people and unite with their hearts and minds. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen… lend me your ear…” He needs to not only say what his people want to hear, with conviction and truth, but colour it with some easy-to-follow guidelines about how things are going to get better. In other words sweeten the necessary discipline with rewards.

One reason why Obama has so far succeeded in popularity and Brown has not, could be timing. Both men have followed in the footsteps of largely unpopular fore-runners, who both engaged in an unpopular war program, when bad decisions were made behind closed doors. So where does the difference lie? Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years prior to one of the biggest financial down-turns in living memory – something he has yet to acknowledge publicly. Also, he has not been voted in as Prime Minister. He is there by default. Obama, on the other hand has no political record to live up or down to and he most definitely was voted in, probably by every American citizen who previously had never voted.

Could I do it? Not on your life! Why? Because I don’t want to! Thankfully I am not a born leader. It would be my worst nightmare – being responsible for thousands of others and the destiny of a nation. No, my talents lie in other directions!

Which is why I take my hat off to anyone who steps into the shoes of Leadership. A born leader is a sort of martyr. He/she will give up any other thought for his/her own personal life and dedicate every waking, and probably sleeping, minute of his/her life working for the whole country. And if he/she is a born leader he/she will want to do that. It would never occur to him/her that there was a different way of living. He/she will be driven, focused, dedicated and enjoy every moment.

In fact, a born leader won’t know he/she is a born leader. It will be the most natural thing in the world, for them. Anyone who is not a natural leader, anyone whose motive for leading the country is not idealistically high, would fail, unless we keep them there. Ideally, they would fall at the first fence and be exposed for the non-leader they are. The truth will out. (And there may be a purpose for a bad leader staying in power, but that’s another story). Some say the best leader for a country is a beneficial dictator. A true leader is single-minded and totally confident in what they believe to be right for, good for, and approved of  by the people. A true leader needs to be un-swayed by other temptations, stronger adverse opinions, negative motivations, threats, fears or ambitions from outside his domain.

There is an enigma working within a born leader. The qualities that go into making said person are diverse and uncountable. The unique blend of talent, wisdom, motivation and physical attributes are completely unquantifiable. The successful candidate is a happy accident. They can just appear out of the blue. There is no school for born leaders, purely and simply because their fate is sealed before they are born, seemingly.

I call to mind a few leaders who have stayed in my memory: Mikhail Gorbachev, Abraham Lincoln, Caesar, Tito, Kemal Ataturk, Nelson Mandela, Alfred the Great, Dalai Lama XIV, Suleiman the Magnificent, Massasoit, Boudica. Under these leaders the course of their country was dramatically changed – some say for the better. They have gone down in history as history makers, alongside many I don’t wish to name. Love them or hate them, great leaders are the founding fathers of our modern times. So who’s next?

Wendy Salter

(original writing)

To read President Obama’s speech to Congress on his recovery program for America, go to http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/02/24/why-was-congress-reading-obamas-speech/

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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