John Livingston News

We Deserve Better Leaders

Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have been influenced by some incredible leaders. Teachers Coaches, professors, Captains of Navy Ships, a Catholic Priest. None of them were very popular with the people they were leading at the time, but 20-30 years later they are remembered with reverence. When I graduated from college, a particular chemistry professor won the unofficial “most hated teacher award” and 40 years later he was voted the most influential teacher by the very same now 60-year-old students who had so despised him as undergraduates. Why?

Like all great leaders, he demanded more of us than we ever thought we had in us to give. Every day in his class was brutal, and woe to the student who didn’t come well prepared. Today I wonder if he would ever be tolerated by today’s “self-esteem seeking snowflakes” or still have a job after several semesters of student evaluations. The Navy Captain prevailed upon me—actually forced me to complete my OFFICER OF THE DAY qualifications even though I would never be able to put on a Surface Warfare (SWOS) pin because I was a physician. Hundreds of hours of time, but 30 years later, time well spent. I had plenty of time to think about that over the years as I was able to qualify to skipper my own large sailboats and then 12 years ago be the 1st Mate on a long line processor— over 150 feet long, that transited across the St. of Alaska from Seattle to Kodiak. All because Captain Davis kicked my butt—even shamed me into qualifying almost every day.

Over the past few years I have become ever more concerned about the quality of leadership that I have seen in all aspects of life—across all institutions and professions, businesses large and small, our military and government at all levels, educational institutions and churches. A consensus leadership model has evolved where the leader must 1st of all be popular, and then have a “buy in” from the people he/she is supposed to lead. If you are asking a group of people to choose between doing something difficult or easy most of us would take the easy route. If a leader is to demand more of his troops than they think is possible he/she may not be a popular leader. When it was 95 degrees with 95% humidity and when all the other teams weren’t practicing because of the heat, my football coach didn’t take a vote about if we should practice. He stood at the door of our practice locker room and in front of everyone said “sock it to me Mr. sun”—and he did this over several days, twice a day and we practiced in full gear knowing for the rest of the season we had endured something that none of the other teams had—and that showed up several times in the 4th quarter during the season. If a coach did that today he might be fired or at least have half the parents complaining about him to the school authorities. But then those parents never grew up during the Great Depression or The Dust Bowl, or had to storm the Beaches at Normandy or Okinawa, like the parents of an earlier generation. Maybe life has been too easy for the past several generations. In always trying to shield themselves from failure, maybe they have never had the opportunity to summon up the courage to succeed. Too bad.

Anyone, if they travel across America as my wife and I have in our RV, can go from small town to small town or large city to large city and see great differences in the cleanliness, openness, and even spirit from local to local. Why is this? Leadership. Even traveling across Idaho you can see these differences within 30 miles. My favorite small town in Idaho is Weiser. If you go to a high school football game, a debate competition, a bake sale at any of the many well attended churches, or the FIDDLE FESTIVEL, the town is out supporting their kids and themselves. Go to a high school basketball game or concert in Boise and not so much. The streets are clean and there is a spirit of pride in the “good towns”. Why? The people for at least three generations have elected and supported great leaders.

The greatest lack of leadership I have ever experienced in my life has come from the so called “experts” and politicians during the Covid-19 pandemic. So many times I have been reminded about the politician-career military officers that seemed to become so prevalent in our armed forces after Viet Nam. The real leadership in our military now comes—and maybe it always has come from, the senior enlisted chiefs and master chiefs and sergeants who seem always to care more about their mission and their troops than they do climbing up the chain of command and furthering their own careers. The politicians and experts today come from the same bolt of cloth. They worry more about their next election and where they can find campaign contributions than they do about the people that elected them. In today’s WALL STREET JOURNAL Ron DeSantis the governor of Florida wrote:

“The Covid-19 pandemic represented a test of elites in the U.S., from public-health experts to the corporate media. The results have been disappointing. Policymakers who bucked the elites and challenged the narrative have been proven right to do so.”

I am a fan of Dr. Hahn and she has done a good job of presenting data to the Governor and the chosen elites on his panel. The panel itself was doomed to failure from the start because of its composition. One ICU nurse could have given a true perspective on availability of hospital beds, ventilators, and the on the ground situation. One virologist likewise could have provided alternative views regarding the spread and mitigation of the virus. It is always easier to follow the “herd”

What really happened I believe was that “group think” took over the media, the politicians and the medical profession? Objectivity was lost and decisions were made in order to further a political objective. This occurred in our State where the voice of one of two virologist-pathologist was squelched.

Finally it has gone almost unrecognized by the media or the progressive establishment, but the great victory of the pandemic—the Covid vaccines, has been a great victory for capitalism and the “risk reward” of the free market place. The failures have been in the top down distribution schemes that have been left to government at all levels. The free market could have handled supply chains much better.

The greatest form of cowardice demonstrated so far in this pandemic has been the Idaho legislature standing down because 6 legislators to date have had positive RT-COVID-19 tests. Are any of them symptomatic? Have any of them been hospitalized? Are any of them immunocompromised or elderly? If so they should have already received their vaccines, or they could chose to stay at home and have a proxy stand in for them. Or they could choose to do what many in the health care communities are doing throughout the nation—where do you think 500,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine went in April in the Tri-States area at the height of the pandemic? Or think of the essential personnel like cross country truck drivers, grocery workers and health care workers who have persisted throughout the pandemic to work proving who really is “essential”.

So here is what I recommend. All should get vaccinated. Those who are worried—most are worried needlessly, should stay at home or get a proxy—maybe an essential worker like a truck driver or a nurse—someone with courage. Come back to Boise. Pass a budget with property tax relief and abolish the grocery tax. Pass a resolution to ask our AG to join a many States Law suite led by Ohio asking the Feds to sever the requirement of not lowering taxes as being a requirement to receive Federal Funds of any kind. And then go home. You aren’t as essential as you think you are.

The lack of courage and leadership at all levels of government and amongst many in the media and our businesses and institutions has cost our country much.

Leadership and courage please. MAGA “Fight Like Hell”

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