Hayden Hollingsworth

Rarely does a day go by without “Breaking News” concerning some action or comment by President Trump. So much so that we have become inured to the barrage of tweets ranging from the trivial to the jaw-dropping. We are caught between paying too much attention and ignoring them. In either case there needs to be a middle ground.

My concern is not about politics, not about policy; it’s about leadership. In the case of President Trump there are two distinct characteristics to be addressed. Leadership requires an expertise in the field of which one would like to be a leader. Just talking about assuming that role is never a qualification although given an oversupply of bombast, the lack of leadership may be disguised. In the case of the President I will leave it to the readers to make their own judgment on that score.

The other component of leadership, the one that has tweaked my interest, is that of character. Now there’s a challenge. While expertise may give the leader the qualities needed for success that is not enough. History is replete with examples to prove that point. You can make up your own list when you think of those who mobilized a nation in a misbegotten rampage which collapsed because it rested on a foundation that ignored morals.

If you need some clarification of how character is essential in the successful implementation of a mission I suggest reading David Brooks’ best seller The Road to Character. It outlines the biographies of eight people, some famous, others less so, who in some way changed the course of society by their dedication to moral behavior.

We are advised by ethical thinkers not to be judgmental, but there is a caveat to that lofty thought. Don’t be judgmental without a thorough knowledge of the facts. In this current discussion the facts are all too apparent. Why a person, especially a president, would act in such an immoral way as to leave a trail of distrust probably has many answers, to which we may not be privy.

That does not excuse us from having no reaction to them. Nor does it imply that the sizeable portion of our country that endorses him is without character. It does evoke two responses, one obvious and the other, equally important but only faintly acknowledged.

If character is important in our President, it seems painfully clear that we need a change. Of the myriad of candidates there is more than enough expertise to think that we can find someone capable of the job. None are without flaws, some perhaps major, but it seems improbable that any of them are as egregious as those with which we are currently burdened.

The second point is this: The President is, I believe, genuinely unaware of any of his shortcomings. He truly is convinced that he alone, and has so stated, can solve the monumental problems of governing. He cannot help himself; he has a decades-long history of his current behavior and it is totally foolish to think that he will change. He is a moral midget and growth is not possible. For that we should not condemn him but rather, as we move forward to find a better way, we should pity him. A sadder person has seldom been in such a seat of power and seemed so lacking in the qualities that make our species the only one that stands for principles that redown to the common good.

If we are to survive as a society worthy of remembering we had better wake up and remedy the problems we have created. That will take judgment and courage, trust and truth. To do less will write a sad chapter, and perhaps the last, in the history of democracy.

J. Hayden Hollingsworth