The greatest presidents in American history had one trait in common more than any other, humility. The point could be argued that their public personas were far different than the realities of their characters, that in fact a monumental ego has always been an equally necessary characteristic in powerful men however subordinated contemporaneously by their handlers and in the various chronicles detailing their lives and actions after they’ve gone. And yet, the latter exists exclusively in every modern politician America has seated in the chairs of power today including those seeking the presidency while humility is nonexistent. To a person, they are dangerous as a result.
A stray glance at the present occupant of the White House clearly underscores this conclusion. He is a tyrannical beast constructed of ego and nothing more. He is an aberration, an error, a disease, a cancer of our own creation. And he isn’t the only one. Waiting in the wings there are several of the same concoction.
The idea of Uriah Heep sitting in the Oval Office is not a pretty picture, nor would we ever want someone so dubiously self-depreciative. Dickens was wont to overextend his characters’ personalities for purposes of style and impact, but the last thing the United States of America needs is a Heep whose humility subordinates his ego, for a measured ego is indeed an essential characteristic of leaders. The trick is balancing the two.
Jesus Christ is the greatest example of that balance. He was properly humble without a shred of weakness, someone who had the power to destroy if he chose, but instead patiently, honestly and earnestly used his infinite power to teach and heal without giving up his authority in the process.
In an age of image only, the great pitfall for a politician, or should we hope to say, potential leader, is the very human trait of believing you are the person your people have created. And yet, Americans, knowing full well what they see is almost never what they will get, continue to elect men and women who fail the test of being truly humble and decisive at the same time.
If you watch Ronald Reagan at his best, you will note he was consistently self-deprecating, thus enduring. At the same time, he exuded power and authority, not personal, but as the representative of the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Although an actor by trade, he was no phony. Anyone could see he was proud of America and more than happy to let friends and enemies alike know it. It is why he was so powerful, respected and feared throughout the world. One knew where one stood with him. Certainly Mr. Gorbachev would attest to that.
But men like Ronald Reagan don’t seem to exist anymore. When we listen to candidates, Democrat or Republican, members of what has become a separate political class, all we hear are stories about them. The number of times any one of them says “I” in a speech is mind boggling. It attests to a general arrogance when it comes to their personal definition of leadership.
Somewhere in the education of the political class it seems they all were taught leaders are created out of nothing but ego, planted on the earth and meant to tout themselves as saviors rather than servants. The entire idea of “service to the country” has been corrupted to mean tyrannical power according to personal political (and sometimes individual) whims. For America to survive, nothing short of destroying the political class will suffice. Humbling by force those who have not a scintilla of such grace is an absolute necessity.
Jesus said he came to “serve”. He admonished his followers, “the last shall be first, and the first last.” This not to stifle their leadership abilities, after all, these were the very same men he chose to lead the most powerful faith in the history of the world. Their leadership qualities, tempered by his dictum that they should be humble, overcame incredible odds. That lesson has been completely lost.
None of the political class in America display such qualities. Hillary Clinton has no such ability. She is hopelessly mired in herself as are Barack Obama, John Kerry and most, if not all the Republican candidates for the Presidency.
Pundits and purveyors, especially those who daily feed at the political trough, will say there is an absolute necessity for such egoism if one person is to lead not only 330 million of his or her own, but essentially the entire world. Therein lies the abomination however, the perversion of what the Founding Fathers so wisely intended. Americans elected to office are supposed to follow, not lead, they are “representatives” not lords much less royalty.
Where he or she is, who knows, but the hope of America and the world is that somehow, through the process available to us, a man or woman with sufficient strength matched by sufficient humility will arise from the heap that is American politics not to lead us, but to follow our orders which are strict and clear.
President Reagan uttered the memorable words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The American people are essentially clamoring for the same thing. They want an end to the political class and they want the wall that has been built by that class between them and their government to be torn down. Only someone humble enough to accept that role, and powerful enough to see it through should be the next president.