What Do You Look For In A Leader?

I usually try not to mix religion and politics as I believe, just like your sexual orientation, that it is really nobody's business. I also believe in our Founder's vision of the separation between church and state, after all, this is why the original Pilgrims came to this country, to have the freedom to practice their religion of choice. Yet, I do not deny my upbringing or strong faith in a higher power, and I often quote the good advice I’ve read in many religious texts over the years. So when I came across this passage in the Bible recently I thought it fitting for this month’s newsletter: Matthew 16:26 says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

This passage struck me because it is how I feel many people view politics today (including myself): corrupt, dominated by money and special interests, and soulless; but what if it didn't have to be this way? I do believe that most people come to government with altruistic intentions. They want to change something for the better, but unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes that altruism can get lost in one’s own desire to win. 

These days it seems that we are in a perpetual state of elections. Since 2008 the American people have not been able to breath as a new race begins before anyone is even sworn in. I, perhaps like you, am suffering from donor and campaign fatigue, but I am also looking more closely at the contenders than ever before.

What are they saying? What have they said in the past? Who do they have around them and are their political ads and speeches factual and informative about the kinds of policies they believe in? What is their experience? These are the questions I'm asking myself and if the answers align with my own beliefs then I will support them. Today, I'm looking for someone who will take a stand on an issue even though it may cost them the race. I'm looking for consistency, thoughtfulness, and empathy. I want a good communicator, someone who is willing to work with others, listen, who can set ego aside, and who is a good roll model for me, my children, our state, and our country. I don't think this is too much to ask since we are entrusting these people with our future. 

It is hard to ever truly know a candidate. Unfortunately, what is said behind closed doors doesn't always translate to what is said in front of large audiences. Everyone has a skeleton or two in their closet, but it is how candidates handle their past that can indicate their future. Just because someone is fallible, we are all human after all, doesn't mean that they still can't be a good leader, and we as voters should be demanding good leaders.  

I no longer want to hear the phrase: “I'm voting for the lesser of two evils.” Why as voters do we accept this? We should be saying: "I'm voting for [insert name] because I believe that they are courageous and honest. That they possess the intelligence and ingenuity to get things done and to work together towards a common goal." There are plenty of these kinds of people in our midst, so demand that they run for office. Who cares if you lose an election if you lose your soul along the way? The American people deserve better. 

Running for office isn’t easy. It is a game and you will most likely get mud on your face at some point, but if you run for office, that doesn’t mean you have to play in the dirt. So here is a thought: What if by electing more women we can demand better politics? I honestly believe women can help to bring campaigning and policy making to a higher standard, we just need to get more women to run and here are a few ways we can:

1. Ask a woman to run. Who in your school or at work would make a good leader? Encourage other women to lead. 

2. Run yourself. Do you think you would make a good leader? Run for school office or city council. Run for school board or state representative; we all need to start somewhere. 

3. Join a campaign. Is there a candidate that motivates and inspires you to get involved? The best experience in how to campaign is to volunteer for one.