The World Needs Fewer Politicians and More Leaders

So many lessons from the forefathers of America, on choosing the right men for public office, has long been forgotten.

Image credit: American Forefathers by Tim on Flickr

The willingness to be unpopular

“A new race of men is springing up to govern the nation; they are the hunters after popularity, men ambitious, not of the honor so much as of the profits of office…”

— Joseph Story, American Judge, 1779–1845

Democratic elections with limited office terms have a big downside: Leaders often take a short term view of what they should do to get into office and what they can do while in office.

Consensus not compromise

“Sir, I would rather be right than be President”

— Henry Clay, American statesman, 1777–1852

A true leader seeks to develop a consensus on making the best choice possible by convincing people it is the wisest choice. Even if his followers disagree, they would still trust that their leader has their interests at heart and would support him trying.

“One man with courage makes a majority.”

— Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, 1767–1845

Numbers do not result in a better decision when it comes to government. It is better to be led by one good man, then to be governed by a system full of squabbling fools.

Forgoing riches

“The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party.” — John Caldwell Calhoun, American Statesman, 1782–1850

Public service is exactly what the term itself implies.

“I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office.”

— Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, 1743–1826

In fact, sometimes the best choice for a leader is the one who is the most reluctant to lead. In public service that is often true — because that implies you are not drawn to it because of the influence and wealth it could bring.

Second oldest profession

Today the world faces unprecedented challenges, to all of humanity — climate change, clean water, poverty, pandemics… the list is long.

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