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John Livingston

We Need Leaders, Not Experts

I grew up loving and playing baseball and football. When I became a father, I shared that love with my three boys. In the summer there was never an evening that didn’t end with ESPN and SportsCenter. WE played baseball in the side yard from March until November. Football in Ohio was our “State Religion”. We always stood for our National Anthem if watching a game in person, or watching a game on TV, but we also stood for The Ohio State Marching Band when they played “Script Ohio”. I grew up being able to name every player at every position on my teams—The Buckeyes, The New York Yankees, and the Green Bay Packers. I also knew the lineups of the Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Reds—I can still recite all those names with pertinent statistics to this day.

Today the “experts” that are in charge of our sports teams aren’t the players on the field or the managers and coaches in the dugouts or on the sidelines, but rather the “suits” the corporate executives, athletic directors and general managers most who have never played the game they are now in charge of running. Corporatism has taken over American sport from the little leagues to the pros. TV contracts and the promise of millions of dollars of revenue for colleges have made mammon’s of college presidents and University Boards of Directors. “Experts”, media executives are running the business of sports, just like they are now running the political process in our country. In many instances in our State and in Washington DC lobbyists and corporate special interests are now in charge—and many of them have never “played the game—think IACI/IMA/IHA/IEA in our own State. Do they represent WE THE PEOPLE or the special interest “stakeholder” corporatist.

This past week I have been inspired by the players and the teams on both the baseball and football fields. In the case of football, I watched Brock Purdy the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers become the leading QB in the NFL. Brock was the very last player taken in the NFL draft 2 years ago—262nd! Last year he won a game against the very best quarterback of all time—Tom Brady, who by the way was taken in the last round of the draft over 20 years ago. The irony of the story is that the Quarterback the 49ers took two years ago in the first round of the draft is now making $30million/yr. as the third string QB for the Dallas Cowboys and Brock is making $950,000/yr. and may win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) this year—talk about value, or more appropriately “expert incompetence”.

The World Series this year will be played by the Texas Rangers and The Arizona Diamondbacks. I can only name one player on either team, 39-year-old Ranger Pitcher Max Scherzer who may be a future Hall of Famer. The big names making the big bucks Shohei Ohtani, Arron Judge, Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts will have to watch the World Series on TV, even though their combined salaries are almost as much as either of the World Series teams—combined. So much for experts in corporate “C-Suites”.

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Talent is human capital and is the most difficult form of capital to evaluate—in any field including business, sports, politics or the military. Popes—Leo the XIII and politicians—Ronald Reagan have commented on the problems of assessing talent and the value of human capital. The value of individual talent when placed in the context of a TEAM is even more difficult to assess. THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown explores the interesting phenomena that the best eight rowers weren’t the rowers that could make the boat go fastest—the tenth best rower taking the place of the 7nth best rower is how the team won the 1936 Olympics.

We have many talented people in our country, some of whom find their way into politics. Some are polymaths, some were great businessmen or served in the military. Some were even great mothers and fathers that raised great children. Unfortunately, those that rise to the top after they win elections are not always the best leaders. Few after winning elections are what I would describe as “reluctant rulers”. My father once told me that a big problem in his life was deciding if he should be hypocritically humble or honestly arrogant”. Many politicians in my “humble” opinion choose the latter.

In order to be on a team, one must be able to subjugate themselves to the good of the team and in order to lead a team one must be able to recognize how the pieces of the team fit together. George Washington did this with his original cabinet with both Alexander Hamiliton and Thomas Jefferson leading disparate factions within the cabinet. Washington made the team work for the good of the country. Abraham Lincoln did the same thing with his TEAM OF RIVALS—think about Solomon P. Chase and William Seward in the same room! Think about George Marshall dealing with Douglas MacArthur, or Dwight Eisenhower dealing with George Patton and Omar Bradley. Think about Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neal. Think about Jesus and his eclectic ban of Apostles!

There are two preconditions that are required for any team to be successful—a common moral predicate and work ethic, and a common goal. Many Republicans find that those ingredients are missing when they deal with progressive liberals who do not share values that are consistent with our own moral predicates and as such, they are not able to share common goals. When you can’t agree on Judeo-Christian and Natural Law Principles, and the other side doesn’t believe in The Constitution, and wants to “tear down our country” then there is no common ground for a team. Surely Republicans both moderates and conservatives believe in the critical preconditions mentioned above, and because those principles and ideals are now under attack by the opposition, maybe finding common ground amongst us is more important than ever.

On Tuesday of this week Dusty Baker announced that he was retiring as manager of the Houston Astros. Dusty played for the Dodgers and Braves for 19 years and was an All Star and Golden Glove winner many times. He won the World Series as a manager and as a player. He was on the on-Deck Circle when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. Dusty was a great teammate and a greater manager of people. He understood how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Sometimes a sacrifice fly that advances a runner is just as important as a home run or a strike out. It is all a matter of timing and perspective, and that is precisely what so many Republicans are today forgetting. The Matt Gaetz 8 “Hissey fit” was selfish and ill-conceived. I hope our new Speaker of the House Michael Johnson is the right man and up to the job. If not, I would like to nominate a real leader “Dusty Baker”. Or maybe Brock Purdy or Tom Brady.

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