There is no such thing as 'natural rights and freedoms', and democracy is not 'the best form of government'; these are, rather -and 'the human phenomenon and all things human' too, mere artifacts of thus-far human evolution as 'a warm-blooded cerebrating vertebrate and the pecking order and neonate ignorance that so far attach it'. -We are, in other words, still 'only bumbling into the future' and the sooner we get on with 'inevitable dirigiste heurism', the better.
'[my bracketed red rant] on yellow-highlighted material')
July 20, 2007 All Things Considered, National public radio
The 2008 presidential campaign season is under way. An open field of candidates is vying for their parties' nominations. What sorts of qualities and traits are people looking for in the next leader of the United States?
ROBERT SIEGEL, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Iím Robert Siegel.
Governor TED STRICKLAND (Democrat, Ohio): Courage, imagination Ö
Representative DEBORAH PRYCE (Republican, Ohio): One who inspires others to do good things.
Mr. ARCHIE GRIFFIN (President and CEO, Ohio State University Alumni Association): Sincere. I think they need to be credible on what they say. They need to care about the people they are
leading [don't they all?].
Mr. JERRY JURGENSEN (CEO, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company): Most importantly is honesty, integrity.
SIEGEL: Last week, I went to talk about leadership with people that live somewhere thatís often decisive in choosing our leaders.
Ms. ZENIA PELEZ (phone) (Tour Guide, Columbus, Ohio Visitors Bureau): Welcome, Robert, to the great state of Ohio and the great city of Columbus.
SIEGEL: Thatís Zenia Pelez of the Columbus, Ohio Visitors Bureau, our tour guide. Ohio has been closely contested in recent presidential elections. Itís a state that is part Appalachian, part northeastern, part Midwestern. Columbus is its
Ms. PELEZ: Itís a very big city.
SIEGEL: Itís the most populous city in Ohio nowadays?
Ms. PELEZ: Yes, it is, much to the chagrin of Cleveland and Cincinnati as well.
SIEGEL: We start out at the center of Columbus, the Statehouse. This is the capital of Ohio and the Statehouse is where the legislature sits.
Ms. PELEZ: So weíre walking into the crypt, which is the basement Ė for all practical purposes Ė of the Statehouse.
SIEGEL: We dropped in on a new occupant of the Statehouse, who was elected last fall.
Gov. STRICKLAND: This is Ted Strickland. I am the governor of Ohio.
SIEGEL: And for this former Democratic congressman, leadership meansÖ
Gov. STRICKLAND: I think it means that a person is willing to make decisions even if it causes themselves, and people they deeply care about, some pain.
SIEGEL: For example, saying no to a long-time supporter in the making of a budget. One thing Strickland has done to try to lead more effectively was move out of a 30th-floor office nearby and into the governorís old and seldom used ceremonial
office in the Statehouse. Now, heís in there with the legislators.
Gov. STRICKLAND: It puts me sort of in the middle of things.
SIEGEL: Not the Wizard of Oz anymore up in theÖ
Gov. STRICKLAND: Not the Wizard of Oz, and Iíve had Republican legislators say to me, I have spent more time with you than I spent with the previous governor over the last four or six years. In large part, because of where Iím physically
SIEGEL: Governor Strickland believes in leadership by deed as well as word. As a congressman, he paid for his own health insurance rather than take a good government benefit when other Americans donít get their health insurance paid for. And heís
carried on that practice as governor.
Gov. STRICKLAND: And Iím doing that, not because Iím a goody-two-shoes kind of guy or sanctimonious or think that I am more righteous than others, I do it as a way of self-discipline and of making sure that I never lack an awareness of how much
health care cost. And Iím glad Iíve done that.
SIEGEL: So far, Stricklandís ideas about leadership seem to be working. He got a state budget passed unanimously in a season when other governors were at loggerheads with legislators. Of course, the state capitol is only the second biggest
attraction on our tour of Columbus, Ohio, with Zenia Pelez.
Ms. PELEZ: Weíre at the Ohio State University. Looking to the west is the famous oval, where Ė talk about some history. If you were here in the Ď60s, all the demonstrations, the sit-ins, everything was happening right there.
SIEGEL: And if you were here in the Ď70s, you probably got to see this man.
Mr. GRIFFIN: Iím Archie Griffin, president and CEO of the Ohio State University Alumni Association. I attended Ohio State University. I played football here, had some success, ended up winning a couple Heisman trophies. And Iím back and delighted
to be here.
SIEGEL: Now just to underscore the point, no one else has ever won a couple of Heisman trophies as the best college football player in the country. No one has done it twice. Whatís leadership to Archie Griffin?
Mr. GRIFFIN: Ability to listen. Ability to motivate, inspire and guide. But most importantly [sic] is honesty and integrity.
SIEGEL: Griffin grew up in Columbus, raised by hardworking parents who put eight kids through college. His father worked three jobs. When he talks about qualities of leadership, he speaks of his father, of his coach at Ohio State, Woody Hayes, of
Martin Luther King, and of the one contemporary figure whose name tends to come up in these conversations.
Mr. GRIFFIN: I think Colin Powell is a great leader. And one of the quotes that he had in his book Ė I wrote down Ė he says that the day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the
day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. And to me, Colin Powell recognizes what leadership is.
SIEGEL: Ohio State is also a major employer in Columbus. We brought together a group of union shop stewards for the Communications Workers of America. Some of whom work for the university, like Kevin Key (ph) and Theresa Hardgrove (ph). What do
they think a leader has to possess?
Mr. KEVIN KEY (Shop Steward, Communications Workers of America): He needs to have a vision thatís for everybody, and a vision that includes the everyday common man.
Ms. THERESA HARDGROVE (Shop Steward, Communications Workers of America): I think that they have to listen, too, listen to the people.
SIEGEL: Serve the people, they said, and that includes people in need of food and medicine
Ms. LINDA FARNSWORTH (Employee, AT&T): Now, I got to be honest. Sometimes, it just comes down to your gut. And I know thatís not a very eloquent answer. But sometimes, for me at least, itís
just how I feel about it personally.
SIEGEL: So youíre checking your gut to see as unforeseen challenges arise over the next few years, is this president going to be thinking whatís best for me somehow? Youíve got to somehow make that decision about somebody in a very imperfect
Ms. FARNSWORTH: Yeah, sometimes itís an imperfect decision.
SIEGEL: We met with the communications workers at a union hall thatís a converted firehouse. Itís not far from a Columbus neighborhood that Zenia Pelez of the Visitors Bureau took us to. Itís an upcoming area for 20 and 30 somethings.
Ms. PELEZ: Weíre standing in the Short North. Great arts district, a lot young people live here.
SIEGEL: And this is a project for the city to keep young people here.
Ms. PELEZ: As a matter of fact, we have over 100,000 students in the greater Columbus area. And so we want to be able to keep some of that brain thrust here.
SIEGEL: People like three members of the Young Professional Group, all of them just around age 30, who told me what they think leadership entails. There was freelance designer Bryce Bonner (ph).
Mr. BRYCE BONNER (Freelance Designer): I think confidence is a large one. Obviously, integrity.
SIEGEL: And a CPA, Scott Mustrik (ph).
Mr. SCOTT MUSTRIK (Member, Young Professionals Group): You have to be a great communicator. You have to stick to [sic] their core beliefs and make decisions [like
Dubya?]. It may not always be the popular decision, but make the right decision thatís really best for the long term.
SIEGEL: And Christopher Cheung who works for the state of Ohio.
Mr. CHRISTOPHER CHEUNG (Member, Young Professionals Group): I think empathy [how about validity?], some ability to relate to the people that theyíre representing. I think itís tough to imagine some people on the national stage having been able to relate to a large majority of the population. [actually thinking
SIEGEL: And Chris Cheung said something about presidential leadership that addresses the mistrust of America that he has encountered in travels abroad.
Mr. CHEUNG: At the end of the day - based just on my own personal experiences - I want someone who exemplifies how great a country I think this is.
SIEGEL: Because it is a great country, he says, and it has lost much in the esteem of the world. All three of these young professionals agreed that something in the way we choose a president doesnít necessarily find the best leader. Chris Cheung
said there are no accidental presidents. Meaning, we choose from among people who want it so much that theyíll endure a torturous process.
Mr. JIM FLYNN (Lawyer): No way. I think there is absolutely no way that weíre well served in that area. And I use as my reference points for that the notion that Iíve met a number of people in my life who I thought would be excellent leaders and
who themselves have said I could do that job, but I would not want to go through what comes with being an elected official. The election process and the campaigning process turns off people that are probably better qualified than the people that we
Ms. LYNNE BOWMAN (Lawyer): Absolutely. I agree with Jim. I think that there are number of folks out there who would be really, really strong national leaders on the political scene. And
there are so many things that are unattractive to it that it drives them away. And I think that hurts us as a nation.
SIEGEL: So, is the private sector possibly a better source of leadership, when Columbus - the most conspicuous business - has practically developed the downtown neighborhood that Zenia Pelez took us to.
Ms. PELEZ: Weíre standing on what used to be the Columbus penitentiary. And a few years later, weíre in this wonderful new development on the Arena District, thanks to the efforts of Nationwide Insurance Company and some other visionary leaders in
this city. And weíve got the Nationwide Arena to my left, where just two weeks ago, we had the NHL draft. It was just a hop and fun town.
SIEGEL: Okay. Zenia Pelez is a professional booster. But the footprint of Nationwide Insurance is so deep and wide in Columbus, we dropped in on the CEO, Jerry Jurgensen, to hear what life in
the corporate world has taught him about leadership.
Mr. JURGENSEN: People follow answers. They donít follow diagnoses. So I believe you absolutely have to convey both a sense of realism[???] but also a sense of optimism[???].
SIEGEL: And Jerry Jurgensen tells this story about becoming head of the company.
Mr. JURGENSEN: I realize the sort of a month or two into the job when I closed the door one day and said, you know, Iíve spent my whole life trying to get here. And now Iím here, and Iím not sure what Iím supposed to do or how I suppose to do it.
But prior to having it, I thought I knew exactly what my boss had to do. And a lot of that is - the higher you go on organizational life, the less it is about you and the more it is about what youíve surrounded yourself with.
SIEGEL: Is that scene at the end of the old political Robert Redford movie, ďThe Candidate,Ē when they get elected and then they turn and say, now, what do we do? This rings a bell with you (unintelligible).
Mr. JURGENSEN: Yeah. Absolutely, it does.
SIEGEL: Columbusí representative in Congress, Republican Deborah Pryce, also talks about the importance of listening, and she talks about a way of being. [???]
Rep. PRYCE: I think, for the most part, people just need to be themselves to be good leaders.
SIEGEL: A leader needs to be authentic then?
Rep. PRYCE: Authentic, absolutely. I think one needs to know themselves, to accept themselves [sic], to be themselves, and then to apply themselves in ways that can bring others to the
SIEGEL: Ask a group of Americans what a leader should do, and they all seem to say a leader should say no. But no one says, say no to me first.
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