Leaders Do What They Do, Including Political Ones

Every leader worthy of notice has had some signature success, some achievement for which they are known.  Except for the truly exceptional ones they will spend the rest of their careers following the same strategy they used in the original effort.

Machiavelli wrote about this in his Discourses.  Leaders do what they do.  If their plan coincides well with the circumstances of the moment, then they will succeed.  But if the plan with which they are comfortable does not mesh with the current operational reality, then they will fail.  This is the operation of fortune about which Machiavelli often wrote.

Because of this dynamic of leadership, the next president must be a leader who has made a name as a budget cutter.  There are moments when a builder of institutions and programs, a visionary, is the right person, but now is not that time.  Now, the cutter must have his due.  In other eras, the cutter would be too conservative, too careful to take necessary risks.  Today, the cutter is in position to become a hero.

We must find a leader who has grown used to bucking the resistance of petty empire builders, bureaucrats, interest groups, unions, and legislators who count on drawing concentrated benefits from the public at large.  Destiny calls.  And those of us in the public must not miss the opportunity to elevate that person.

— Hunter Baker is the author of The End of Secularism and teaches political science at Union University in Tennessee


4 responses to “Leaders Do What They Do, Including Political Ones

  1. Hmm. Might you have Mitch Daniels in mind? When I heard that he called for a truce in the culture wars, I wrote him off as a bean counter, unworthy of the presidency. After reading Edward Lee Pitts’ article on him in World Magazine I learned that he is a Christian man who is committed to a godly policy agenda. I have links to that article and to the Weekly Standard article where he originally suggested a truce so we could focus on getting our finances under control (Principalities and Powers).

  2. He’s in the universe of possibility. I personally think the truce idea is a bit of genius. A truce is perfectly okay with me if it turns out the one setting the terms is friendly.

  3. But you know it would unilateral disarmament. I think it was Marvin Olasky who pointed out that it is the left that is pressing the battle. The right is just trying to hold it off.

    Also, the left sees no value in it. They don’t see the financial crisis as a crisis. Otherwise they would not be pressing to spend as aggressively as they are. In their view, it is a revenue problem. raise taxes on the rich. Problem solved. So there’s no basis for agreement on a truce.

  4. I think the genius of the truce is that it simply makes independents that much more comfortable in trusting their fiscal instincts to go with government cutters.

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