I’ve always thought you could divide the world into 2 groups: leaders and followers.
We talk about leaders a lot. “Hey, that Molly, she’s a great leader!”
Or, “Don’t work for that bozo! He couldn’t lead his way through an open door!”
We tend to ignore followers because, well, they’re followers. Who cares, right?
Here are some qualities of a good leader you’ll find in most leadership courses: Good communicator, accountable, responsible, motivated, high integrity, emotionally stable, and smart.
George Washington was a great leader. Ditto Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Eisenhower, Kennedy… I guess I’ll stop before Nixon.
Good leaders are all around us. The best leader I knew personally was Pat McGuigan, retired ex-Command Sergeant Major in the Army who was the Manager of Malvern, PA when I was President of that town’s Council. He helped turn many of my cool ideas into reality, like getting Congress to designate a Revolutionary War battlefield as a Federal Park…(Wait…No… that was his idea.) Or adding three playgrounds to the town…(Oops… his idea, too). Or after he left, naming the Municipal Building “McGuigan Hall”… (Yep, that was my idea – I’ve always been a leader at naming).
Marks of a bad leader are: No empathy, ruthless, dishonest, lazy, dictatorial, narcissistic, blames others, vindictive.
We’ve all known people like that.
That doesn’t mean bad leaders don’t have followers. Jim Jones had followers; they drank his kool-aid and died. Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jon-Un, Castro, Che Guevara, and others had followers. They didn’t do well, either.
Good leaders do good things for their followers. Bad leader do bad things for their followers.
Followers have only one real responsibility: choose their leaders carefully. It’s a big responsibility and not always easy. It requires good education and good judgment. The turn of the last century saw bad judgement by followers in Italy and Russia who followed charismatic leaders right into loss of freedom. Those followers were followed by worse followers in Germany and Russia (again), not to mention South America, China, Burma, Viet Nam…
A lot of pain comes to followers of bad guys (interestingly, I can’t name many women who were bad leaders, but that’s another column).
Our recent leader was known as a bad guy well before he ran for President. He stiffed suppliers and banks, cheated on his wives, discriminated against renters.
His followers, for whatever reason – anger at big government, loss of status, racism, fear of liberals – glommed onto him like a horny teenager at a porn site.
And, predictably he did a lot of things that hurt the country internationally and nationally, as well as his followers, many thousands of whom died from his non-leadership of Covid 19.
The combination of his Big Lie and love-struck followers led to the Jan 6, 2021 assault of Congress and, this week, his impeachment trial.
But they aren’t the worst followers in the Trump Saga; the worst followers are those who follow his followers.
California Representative Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader under Trump, had a chance to remove and admonish Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, anti-semite, QAnon follower, 9/11 doubter, and all around mean girl. Instead, he and numerous other Republican leaders slobbered over the 74 million Trump voters and, in the interest of keeping them unified against Democrats, did nothing. 45 Senators, so far, have done the same thing for the same reason: they voted against impeaching Trump.
Following followers is not just circular leadership, it’s a downward spiral for the country.
On the other hand, some leaders have shown courage and integrity. Senator Romney and Representative Cheney, along with a few other Republican leaders, have stood up to the Trump mobs at professional and personal risk (death threats and more). Wouldn’t it be incredible if more Republican leaders put the nation in front of their craving for power?
As the Impeachment unfolds this week, the House Managers have presented evidence that months of Trump’s speeches incited the Jan 6 riot. The remaining question is: did he do it on purpose? Did he know his constant lies would trigger an attack on Congress.
In other words, is there a smoking gun?
For the answer, go back to a campaign speech before he won the Presidency.
Over four years ago, on September 23, 2016, Trump said: “They say I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters. It’s like incredible.”
Substitute “Capitol” for “5th Avenue” and you have your smoking gun.