Donald Trump’s Unprecedented Leadership in Unparalleled Times

I have little patience for armchair quarterbacking. Being a critic is cheap. A crisis like we are seeing with COVID-19 will test all of our leadership skills. Looking for blame will do little to help the situation. Donald Trump and other government leaders are not responsible for this virus. I think we all have to be patient as we work to manage this crisis. No matter how much planning and preparation we do there will always be missteps, miscalculations and mistakes. 

One of the hallmarks of leadership is how one responds under pressure and how one owns the problem. During World War II, President Harry Truman kept a sign in the Oval Office that read “The Buck Stops Here.” Good leaders don’t blame others for problems, they go to work to find solutions. A companion principle is accountability. Leaders are eager to know how and what went wrong so they can fix it. The coronavirus is an unparalleled crisis in our time. It has required unprecedented leadership. 

Mr. Trump has provided unprecedented leadership, but, sadly, it has been unprecedentedly poor leadership. He not only refuses to take any responsibility for the handling of the crisis, he looks for every opportunity to blame others. Instead of “the Buck Stops Here,”  we see a passing of the buck. Blaming and abusing the media, gaslighting the World Health Organization, as well as projecting his own failures on governors and others. He has refused to acknowledge where mistakes have been made and shows a disdain for facts. His press events are more like campaign rallies, filled with lies and scapegoating. His dismissal of the crisis early on, and the lack of tests, health care equipment etc., could be chalked up to understandable mismanagement, if it wasn’t for the constant lies, blaming and shaming (for a thorough time line of Mr. Trumps reactions to the virus check out this three part series from Steven Harper).

Some of you will read this and think I am making a partisan attack. However, a crisis like this cuts through party lines.  Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican in liberal Massachusetts, has had wide bipartisan support during the crisis. So has Andy Beshear, a Democrat in deep red Kentucky, and Larry Hogan, a Republican in liberal Maryland. All of these governors have approval ratings in the 70s or 80s. Republican Governor Herbert of Utah, and Governor DeWine of Ohio have received national bipartisan praise, as have Democratic Governors Cuomo and Newsom of New York and California. Why? Because they have exhibited the kind of leadership that we need in a moment of crisis. 

No doubt there will be a congressional panel that it will look into the national mismanagement of this crisis. Historians and other academics will expose in great detail why our response was so inferior compared to places like Germany, Iceland, Ireland, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and others. We will not need to wait for those reports to confirm what we see everyday coming from the White House: a void of leadership looking to absolve itself of any responsibility or accountability for this crisis.

Writing to Change the World

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I am writing to change the world! Well that feels like a bit much, eh? But, there it is, on my website, as the tag line. You see it on every page. I am putting it out to the world. So what troubles me about this claim? The scope! When I say I want to change the world the first thing that comes to mind is that what I do must have some kind of global impact. The earth knew I was here because of the seismic impression I left. Therein lies the rub. The scope of the ambition leaves you feeling small and hubris at the same time. 

So what do I really mean when I say I want to change the world by what I write? I mean I hope to influence the world for good, I want to be among the contributors, not just the cynics. Of course, I would like my words to reach the masses, but that’s not the main motivation, not even close. If it was, it could taint what I write. I would find myself always chasing the popular new thing looking for more eyeballs and possibly lose sight of the goal. The goal is to impact the world around me for good. A forest is a mighty thing but so is a tree. To reach the one has value, to develop your skills has merit, even if only a dozen see it. I do want to change the world but I know that may never be on the scale it sounds like. 

I’m so very grateful for those who have impacted me in my life, few of which are NYT bestsellers or have monetized their talents in grand ways. My widowed neighbor taught me at church and welcomed me into her home. She was, for me, a much needed surrogate grandparent. She was never interviewed by Oprah and didn’t “make it big” but she changed the world by changing me. School teachers, church mentors, friends, coworkers and of course family, have all blessed my life and almost without exception did those things in obscurity. But, make no mistake they changed the world by changing me.    

So why do I write? Why not just be a nice guy? Well I am trying to be a nice guy. I’m trying to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, a good husband, a good father, a good Christian etc. Part of that for me means trying to push myself in new ways and develop my talents so that I can be of value to those around me. One risk we have when we pursue this course of action is comparing ourselves to others finding, ourselves lacking and then quitting. I am sympathetic to that, and I’ve written about it on at least two occasions ( Check out those posts here and here).

We can’t let whatever we aren’t yet stop us from becoming what we can be. We also can’t minimize what we are doing because we haven’t maximized the impact. Six years ago I had the distinct impression to spend more time on social media and be more purposeful about it. That journey has led me to write more, think more and be more brave. Since then I have, little by little, accomplished a lot! Here is a brief list:

  • Finished a 40k word middle grade book
  • Joined the Society Of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators
  • Joined a writing group
  • Learned how to query agents to represent my projects
  • Began my blog 
  • Reached close to 10,000 views on the blog
  • Have had near 500,000K views on social media (this is an educated guess because FB analytics are tricky for personal accounts) 
  • Finished (almost) with the first draft of my second book
  • Created a website 
  • Learned how to better brand my work
  • Met new people 
  •  Made new friends  
  • Improved my skills 
  •  Gained new skills 
  • And in some small way have made a difference 

Perhaps the most satisfying thing that has happened is the personal messages I get. So many times I have felt like a humbug, gotten discouraged, or have been ready to walk away from everything, when someone will reach out to me and thank me for something I have written. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support I have received and humbled by the impact it’s had on myself and others. So yes, I may never monetize my work, and yes, I may never reach the masses, but I am changing the world, one word at a time, and that’s okay by me.

The Case for Impeaching AOC

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We are ultimately responsible for how we defend our republic. If it deteriorates, we can not blame politicians. They are only put there by us.

Questioning the motives of some Democrats who would like to see President Trump removed is understandable.  It’s hard to imagine how anyone is not frustrated with our current hyper-partisan politics. None of this, however, is an excuse for ignoring the gravity of our current situation concerning Mr. Trump’s conduct or the complicity of many who share his political party. 

If President Trump is not held accountable for this conduct, what will stop future presidents from engaging in the same behavior?For those who are defending Mr. Trump, ask yourself these questions:

Would you have no problem with a President Ocasio-Cortez having Rahm Emmanuel fly around the world, offering to have President Ocasio-Cortez do foreign government officials favors, in exchange for targeting her political opponents? Would you be troubled if Ms. Ocasio-Cortez acting as president, withheld money approved by Congress to an ally, in exchange for political opposition research on her Republican opponent? 

Would you be with okay with Rahm Emmanuel soliciting money and favors from foreign actors to help slander, harass and potentially threaten US ambassadors? Would you be okay with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez refusing to allow anyone in her administration to testify in front of the House committees investigating these allegations?  Would you support her decision to release zero documents in regards to House investigations? Would you feel comfortable in her ability to continue to exercise her constitutional duties? Of course not! What we would hope for is that fair minded people of both parties would condemn such behavior. just as we hope that will happen now.

If we condone Mr Trumps current behavior because we condemn the motives of those we don’t agree with, we will in the end weaken our Republic, perhaps beyond repair. 

Everyone of us should be focused on what’s best for the country, not what’s best for our political party preferences. We have to let reason temper our tribalism. Our republic is depending on it.

Why I Am Not a Bernie Bro

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Democratic nominee for President Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jane Sanders are joined by Elena Letona, Executive of NPAC, to announce their endorsement of Sen. Sanders in Boston, MA on Monday, February 22, 2016. Photo: Christopher Dilts / Bernie 2016

 

I try to keep the things I write affirmative not negative. However, as we get closer to choosing a democratic rival to Donald Trump, I thought I might weigh in on my feelings about Bernie Sanders. Here are a few of the reasons why I do not support the candidacy of Mr. Sanders. 

I think he relies on bumper sticker slogans more than actual, detailed plans. I am sympathetic to those who are ready for major change. However, free college tuition, forgiving $1.6 trillion in student debt, and free healthcare for all, are all extremely complicated ideas that are going to require huge structural changes with great complexity. 

I think his approach is logically flawed. One of the reasons college debt is so high is because the cost of college has risen so much over the last 30 years, beyond inflation. How does giving everyone free tuition address the systemic problems that caused the increase costs of education? We all know there is nothing actually free, it is all taxpayer funded. Even if we tax the wealthy more, which I am in favor of, Mr. Sanders is not clear on how he will pay for these massive, expansive and expensive programs.  

In regards to health care, roughly 20% of United States workforce is employed in the healthcare field. You cannot just radically change that system without causing a serious displacement in employment, and disruption to the economy. 

I completely agree that healthcare and education need major overall reform, but it will require many more details and much more incremental planning.

All of his plans will require bipartisan cooperation. I’m certainly in favor of greater unity and cooperation. However, major changes like Mr. Sanders proposes will be met with fierce opposition. How can you compromise, and gain bipartisan cooperation, when your fundamental premise is that everything has to radically change?

He’s too old. I understand this is also a critique of Mr. Biden. I think there is great wisdom in choosing seasoned leaders. However, the demands of the President of the United States are so singular and intense, I worry about placing that large of a burden on someone of that age.

How electable is a democratic socialist? Don’t get me wrong, I’m super bugged by those who compare democratic socialism to Venezuela, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, or other communist/socialist countries. It shows their ignorance of modern political parties around the world. Democratic socialism is nothing like Venezuela, the Soviet Union, Cuba etc. Mr. Sanders is not proposing a government takeover of private property in the means of production. I do believe the electorate is smart enough to understand the distinction. But, I can imagine having to constantly push back on the attacks from conservatives that we’re moving towards some kind of scary communist regime. That prospect is daunting and will distract from talking about more important issues.

Would I vote for Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump? Of course I would. He just isn’t my first choice. I like the idea that his campaign has been funded by small contributions. He deserves credit for creating a movement that feels less candidate centric and more like a collective group. I just do not think he is the best suited for our time. Here is website:  You should check it out, and see what you think about him as a candidate for yourself.