I recently enjoyed reading “Leadership In Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed historian. In this very timely and scholarly account, Ms. Goodwin chronicles the lives and presidencies of four of America’s greatest leaders: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. She writes that their success as leaders was due to their ability to be guided by the greater good as well as possessing an amazing political talent for building consensus for a cause that was otherwise controversial.
Most would agree that while leadership may be difficult to define, it is most certainly a driving force that embodies a deep sense of humanity that is essential in bringing civility, compassion and purpose to a nation. .
Ms. Goodwin writes that leadership is found in a family of traits and behavioral patterns. Among them, she cites humility, empathy, resilience, courage, respect for diverse opinions, control of negative impulses, the ability to connect with all kinds of people, and a commitment to keeping one’s word.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mrs. Goodwin’s book, I must honestly admit that it was very depressing to realize that for all the grandeur that was once a hallmark of our democratic republic – the presidency; we are now suffering as a nation as hundreds of thousands of people die an agonizing death, the streets are ablaze with racial and ethnic hatred and hostility and we have become a global embarrassment due to the incompetence and illusions of supremacy of our leader.
Lincoln was praised by Ralph Waldo Emerson for his merciful, humble, and patient leadership during the darkest days of the Civil War. In contrast, our president has none of these traits and is a racist tyrant and psychopathic liar.
FDR led our nation through the trials and tribulations of the Great Depression and WWII and we are now led by a fascist who has left us with no international ally (except Putin) and for some reason whatever, completely ignores an out-of-control 27 trillion dollar national. debt.
LBJ’s Civil Rights Act (1964) was the tangible cornerstone of his vision to create a truly great American society. Our current leader is a homophobic, misogynistic buffoon whose vision of greatness is defined by how the stock market treats its billionaire golf minions.
Ms. Goodwin suggests that… “Leadership is a mirror in which people see their collective reflection.” Very sadly, as we see each other, and the world observes this same “reflection”, the current American leadership at the highest level has descended to a shameful level and is shamelessly dishonoring the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.