Re: Idealist vs. Realist Leaders
Thanks again for the fantastic response to our Wednesday discussion. First, I want to say that I believe that my original statement was not that idealists have made the greatest leaders in history. Rather, I said that idealists have been the people who have gotten things done. Semantics, perhaps, but I think it makes quite a bit of difference to my argument.
As I wrote in my previous, brief email, I do believe that many bad leaders, like Bush, have been idealists. But, you can’t argue that he hasn’t done anything. He just hasn’t done much that I agree with.
Really, I think, the motive behind my statement was the idea that if people don’t attempt something that nobody thinks is possible, then things will always remain the same…
To me, a realist says, “Well, what can I do? The ‘system’ is such that I can’t make a difference.” Whereas, an idealist says, “I have ideas, and even though I’m just one person, I’m sure that I can find others who will support me. To hell with the status quo! If not me, then who?”
Would you say that
Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu… again, idealists who hoped for an end to absolutism, who hoped to create governments in which the people had a voice. And sure, their ideas were just that, ideas, but they inspired revolutions across Europe and
I’d say another great idealist was Bobby Kennedy. I believe this country would be in a far different place today if he had survived and won the election. Looking at that same time period, what about Martin Luther King, Jr.?
So, perhaps, a great leader needs a bit of a mix between the two – a strong sense of idealism and hope, with her/his feet grounded in knowing what it takes to actually make things happen.
So then back to the argument at hand,
Obama says he wants to change the way things work in
Hillary sounds pretty good when she speaks, to a Democrat, at least. But some 45% of the country or so claim to “hate that bitch.” Not a good start to getting things done in this country. Another credit I give to Obama. He inspires people and, I think, is therefore better able to unite people. Republicans like him! I've been told by red Republicans that if Obama wins the nomination, for the first time ever they will vote for a Democrat for President. The best laid plans can never work if you can’t get enough support. I believe Obama can gather that support.
On top of that, all he really needs to do to make up for his lack of experience in the White House is to surround himself with the right people. And listen. I believe that Obama listens.
I’m tired of the status quo. I’m tired of feeling frustrated that I can’t do anything. And yes, I’m tired of having a Bush or a Clinton to look to. Is it possible for me to be a cynic and an idealist at the same time? I don’t think
Is that weak compared to a realist’s point of view? Perhaps, but if I don’t dream, who will?
Looking forward to your response…