As long as the human race needs,
or for that matter tolerates leaders,
it will be an inferior breed.
Updated 31 August 2004
As Andrew Johnson has noted: "Leaders are a 'mechanism' which some people use to offload responsibility -- and that's where most of the trouble starts."
Leaders, by definition, require followers. To be a follower is to be subservient -- the antithesis of Sovereignty. Freedom does not achieve its greatness by following or by obeying an “authority”, an “expert”, anyone claiming to know the best thing to do. If one wants to do something, then let them do it. If they appear to benefit, then we might want to follow up on the idea and mimic in some individualistic and unique manner.
So-called “leaders” are seldom true leaders. Instead they stay far back in safety while they send the troops into harm’s way. Today’s leaders are cowards, manipulators, or users. Alexander the Great was a true leader for he led his troops into battle. Today’s so-called leaders never lead, but instead direct, point, or urge others on from the safety of their bunker.
If leadership meant “taking point”, walking down the trail in front of everyone, and thus being exposed to the first mine, bullet, snare, trap, or whatever killing or maiming device an enemy might have laid out... Ah yes, then we might have a leader. Anything else is barn carpeting. One can never be a leader unless he or she is willing to risk the first sling or arrow of outrageous fortune, outraged observers, or out-of-their-mind participants.
Our elected and appointed officials are never leaders. They are hired hands, hired to do a job, and otherwise get out of the way. Officials who require the rule of law, or the power of the State, in order to acquire followers, are by definition not leaders.
Leadership implies linear thinking. It obviates the broader spectrum of cycles, images, symbols, and wholistic comprehension. It negates the nature of a Republic, the benefits of Common Law, or any system suggestive of equal rights and privileges.
George W. Bush as President has clearly surfaced as an excellent example of being a Misleader. As Joe Klein  has noted: President Bush has a problem with telling the truth. Not a witting liar, but an inability to know the difference. "The President seems to believe that wishing will make it so -- and he is so stupendously incurious that he rarely makes an effort to find the truth of the matter. He misleads not only the nation but himself."
Part of the problem, of course, is that the so-called leader (what the Germans called Die Fuhrer) does not do his homework, does not read newspapers and magazines or find alternative sources of information, but instead relies on a handful of trusted aides to bottle feed him critical information. Any legitimate leader would never so hobble himself and thus Bush cannot be construed as a leader. He is in fact, a follower of his sources of information. His apparent forceful leadership is nothing but a front.
In this venue, we now now take you to the Oval Office, where President Geroge Bush is about to be briefed by his Foreign Affairs Advisor, Condeleza Rice (who the President affectionately calls "Condi").
The fact that the above scenario seems almost plausible should give one pause.
In a separate article  Mr. Klein asks if perhaps leadership is not in the details. He notes for example that President Bush "traffics in headlines. the policies themselves are often not entirely baked." A case in point: the revised doctrine of pre-emption. "We have the moral responsibility to pre-empt evildoers [the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, et al]... unless they have the ability to empt back (as North Korea does). This is an embarrassment, and a rather dangerous one at that." Bush's policies are more like bumper stickers than actual policies. [Which is likely all that Bush's mind can handle.]
Andrew Sullivan  has noted: "Once upon a time, Republicans believed in leaving it to the private and voluntary sectors to do the important work of building citizenship and values." "One of the key beliefs of this President is that federal money should be funneled to religious groups that blend proselytizing with important social work." This is the agenda of a fundamentalist Religion -- specifically Dominionism -- and as a consequence, is a policy that is particularly threatening.
Mr. Sullivan goes on to say: "There has always been a tension in conservatism between those who favor more liberty and those who want more morality. But what's indisputable is that Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' is a move toward the latter -- the use of government to impose and subsidize certain morals over others. He is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious-right moralism. It's the nanny state with more cash. Your cash, that is. And their morals."  Inasmuch as their morals can be on hold for the duration -- in the fashion of Dominionism -- their so-called moral base constitutes a philosophy with a complete lack of morals, ethics, or any other redeeming quality (and the fanaticism to forge ahead nonetheless).
One of the sadder aspects of so-called leadership is that "When people feel uncertain, they'd rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right." Now is that a sad state of affairs, or what? Reread the headline of this page.
Another of the real problems with leadership is that if a leader ever admits to a mistake, then the next time that same leader suggests charging in where angels and used car salesmen fear to tread, there has got to be a hesitation among the troops and the thought that this might also be a mistake. When, for example, President Bush included in his 2003 State of the Union speech false information about a Weapons of Mass Destruction link in Nigeria -- there were many people who preferred to believe their President was not a liar, and thus had to assume he had been given false information.
But this leads to the crux of the problem: Even "if it turns out that the straight truth was not driving Bush's decisions, then how can Americans be sure he's making the right ones now? And that is where the danger lies for the Bush presidency. While continued turmoil in Iraq could begin to erode the public's faith in the President's honesty, it could also do something equally damaging: ressurect the public's pre-9/11 doubts about his competence." 
It is curious to note in that regard that President Bush has "suggested that had Saddam allowed inspectors in his country -- something, of course, that the Iraqi dictator had done with great fanfare -- there would have been no need for the conflict."  The reality is, of course, that even Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, had said in much earlier discussions, "I stated in press conferences that weapons of mass destruction would not be found." And as he also pointed out, "Every prince needs allies, and the bigger the responsibility, the more allies he needs."  Going in without allies is not a wise thing for any Machiavellian Prince to do.
Which brings us full circle to the basic point: Why not include ALL participants/citizens as allies? Why not take the teachings of Machiavelli and turn them on their head? Why not increase the level of sovereignty and thus force the issue of leadership -- and/or misleadershp -- into the back waters of history where they belong?
Finally, we should always keep in mind that:
1) Facilitators can be useful. Someone to suggest (but never enforce) an easier path, or alternative compromise in reaching a goal.
2) Mentors can be a good thing -- provided the student has the power to walk away on a moment’s notice. A one-on-one sharing of wisdom has real potential
3) Teachers have some use -- but only as a reference, a source of information. If they strive to lead, they’re likely to become very lonely on their path.
When in doubt, treat aspiring leaders as if they have the plague. Or leprosy. Feel free to yell out: “Unclean, unclean, unintelligent, untenable, unrealistic, unwavering, unwaffling, un________!” ...Whatever.
 Joe Klein, "How Bush Misleads Himself," Time Magazine, July 28, 2003.
 Joe Klein, "Is Leadership in the Details?", Time Magazine, January 20, 2003.
 Andrew Sullivan, "The Nanny in Chief," Time Magazine, February 2, 2004.
 Time Magazine, July 28, 2003, page 29.
 "10 Questions for Silvio Berlusconi, Time Magazine, July 28, 2003.
 (former President) Bill Clinton, commenting on the results of the 2002 midterm-election results, Notebook, "Verbatim", Time Magazine, 2003.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]