Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where is Cincinnatus?

I was reminded in an online conversation today of the historic Roman leader "Cincinnatus" who ruled Rome for two brief periods over 400 years BC. In this election year, while it is probably too late to hope for such an entity to enter the political arena anywhere in the world, I think it worthwhile to spend mind energy in search for such a leader. In an age where elections go to the most elite, or the leader who offers the most freebies to the electorate...we might want to consider where we can find this alternative type of leadership.

Cincinnatus...who has two USA cities named after him...was a "model of Roman virtue and simplicity". He was called upon by his fellow countrymen to lead them two times during invasions and circumstances of emergency. He answered the call as a lightening rod of leadership...and as soon as he restored law and order, he immediately gave up his power and returned to his simple and personal life. Why can't we find current politicians who have more of this service mentality?

I actually believe there are more "Cincinnatus'" living among us. The only problem is, our institutions and traditions do not allow these types of people to run for office. In the USA and other Western democracies...the only people that can run for office are those who have enough money...or are bought and paid for by those who do. People today have rabid religious zeal for their various political parties...and are blind to independents or even opposite party members who offer the best attributes and ideas to lead our country out of harms way. Everything is about movements, labels and affiliations...not about individual values, ideals and fortitude to stand up for what the individual deems to be right.

What is it that drives our "career" politicians in various countries to continue pursuing office? How many of them truly have a "servants" attitude towards their office versus standing for special interests and power itself? How many would willingly stand down if the majority of the citizens simply wanted them to? Not many I don't think.

Most current day conflicts such as Syria are caused by these tyrannous despot leaders who can think of no other life for themselves besides wielding dictatorial power and having their "time in the sun" of unbridled power and corruption. While we could applaud that changes are happening during this "Arab Spring" of revolt and revolution...we also must raise the question "who will replace the previous despot leaders?". Often times we see a country go from bad to WORSE when choosing or supporting their leadership. It definitely seems more and more difficult to find clean, democratic, non politically driven leaders in today's world...wherever you look.

I believe the USA...and other countries in the world...are in need for a Cincinnatus type leader. We need leaders who will serve without personal gain. We need leaders who have proven their efficiency and success in real life situations...not just in the systems and institutions we have made for governance. We need business leaders to lead our economy. We need moral leaders at the highest offices of our military who are not quick with the sword, or war-type spending. We need agricultural leaders to lead our country in food production and free market applications. We need intellectuals of the highest caliber in our court systems who are practical and fair. Politics as usual needs to go away.

We need leaders who represent service to the greater good, civic virtue, lack of personal ambition and modesty. Instead, the USA is lead by only 535 Congresspeople, 9 Supreme Court justices, a President and a Vice President. The only people not elected are the Supreme Court judges who are APPOINTED by the President for LIFE LONG service. It is scary that so few lead so many...and are also defacto leaders of the "free world" which is a huge responsibility most of them are NOT prepared for. In fact, many of our leaders have been convicted of crimes and misdemeanors that should prohibit some of them from ever serving.

I don't know where the modern day Cincinnatuses are in the world...but I have to believe they are out there somewhere. I HAVE to believe that...the alternative is too painful to consider.

1 comment:

Dave McDonagh said...

Priyanka Gandhi advised people not to deify politicians and vote strictly on the issue of development. “Politics will improve only when you will understand that politicians are your servant," Gandhi said.

I see politicians and public servants as two very different characters. The priorities of a public servant put self as last and the constituency as #1 while the inverse is true with most Politicians today, who put themselves above all. This is especially clear with politicians in the United States. Politicians will switch points of view and even parties, if needed, to win their re-election bids. In the U.S. most people holding government jobs are looking out for themselves above those who pay them. Finding a public servant is very hard.

As you point out, the problem with the American political system is that party affiliation is central to everything political in the United States. When it comes those who elect the politicians into office they are import as a means to an end --- election or re-election to office. We have seen gerrymandering of districts for various offices only as serving a party and an individual’s election rather than attaining true representation of those who pay the bills (or hold the debt) which politicians create.

The problem we really face is by giving politicians more power over the last few years , they now have enough to put the Rule of Law in the United States at risk. This is simply because they don’t respect the rules anymore. Instead they interpret them to meet their needs. This takes place federally, at state levels as well as locally in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government.

A “public servant” is one who serves the public. However, most of those who are called public servants in society today serve themselves and their parties first. In the way society has evolved the Rule of Law it is probably unrealistic to expect public officials to be public servants…they are really politicians. The problem, as you point out so vividly in “Where is Cincinatus?” is that there are too few public servants in our political systems today. The system favors politicians and this is what will destroy the original ideals of the United States as well as many other countries in the World today.

From an Ayn Rand philosophy I would pose the question, “Where is John Galt?” it these troubled times.