From South of Left Field: Leaders, Leaders Nowhere by Jimmie Galbreath


It increasingly bothers me when our elected officials are so casually referred to as leaders. Occupying a position of power doesn’t make someone a leader. I guess it is time to dive into the dirty business headlong.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Now for those still with me after mentioning those two, please join me in considering the broad view of earlier political campaigns. They were fairly sedate affairs without a great deal of drama or any real fire. The self-appointed members of each Party would stand up and declare they were ‘The Leader’ we all needed. Then came the struggle between each of these self-appointed ‘Leaders’ to attract votes. The elections would proceed with all the gravity and decorum of a kindergarten playground with noisy games and some name calling and for us the occasional plugging of ears and eye rolls. Once in office, the inevitable declaration of a ‘Mandate from the people’ would follow, and nothing of real substance to our wellbeing would be enacted.

Then came the run-up to the 2016 election. Ladies and Gentlemen, we present for the first time in a long time the appearance of not one, but two actual leaders. Folks I am not kidding, two actual leaders. These were candidates who attracted the support of people, often across Party lines. Candidates who called forth citizens that had been absent in past elections. Leadership with declared intentions and visions that did not spring from the existing parties; but from the sense of the pain of the general population. They were Leaders because each one had a message and a style that touched us in a way that caused us to respond.

Please understand that in the end being a real political leader doesn’t mean being right or the best. It means these candidates knew how to inspire and rally support from a population. Human history is filled with Leaders who inspired and the results of their Leadership are scattered all over the moral landscape. Most of them tapped into a pool of people disillusioned with the conditions of the time. People who felt oppressed or betrayed or forgotten. People like so many of us today.

I don’t know about y’all, but I found it very entertaining watching the mainstream politicians in both Parties struggling to come to terms with the support that rallied behind those two. Strangely, as time went on it became apparent that instead of embracing the sudden rise of Leadership that could energize popular support the parties sought ways to undermine these two. Even the press worked against Sanders by actually blacking him out.
It is clear that we have a severe Leadership problem in America today. Our population is feeling a deep lack of faith in our politicians based on a gut level realization that we are losing our affluence. My heart tells me my children face a bleaker future than I did. Education is moving beyond our grasp, jobs with decent pay are harder to find, the hope of a secure retirement is fading, and poverty engulfs more of our citizens each year. In the face of what my gut tells me the feel good drivel offered up by the political ‘leadership’ smells like something from my childhood on the dairy farm.

My point? Inspiring Leadership arises when people experience widespread disillusionment and anger. These new Leaders will be people with a voice and vision that differs from the staid establishment. This establishment will likely oppose the new Leaders so as to protect their moneyed patrons. This is both an opportunity for us, the citizens, and severe risk.

At the risk of sounding like a rabble rouser, embracing change requires ‘We The People’ choose new Leadership if we wish our Government to evolve to better protect our livelihood and well being. Expect the old hands to put on the cloak of the new Leaders as they appear, aping the tone and content but changing nothing. The Corporate Press will strive to herd us toward our old patrons of wealth. Resist them both, look to the new, strive for better.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned a dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS then in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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