Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thoughts on Leadership

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, a friend preferred Hillary Clinton to him because he was "too preachy."

"Like Martin Luther King, Jr., preachy? That's not a bad thing."

"If you're standing in front of a congregation, it's not a problem. But a country?" She shook her head. "I want people to be effective."

I chalk it up to a difference in the leadership styles we prefer. After eight years of George W. Bush, I for one was ready to be inspired. To listen to a president who knows how to use the English language elegantly and effectively, passionately and convincingly. To teach. All things a preacher does.

I follow Newark mayor Cory Booker on twitter, and he posted a list last week I find inspirational:

1. To create wealth: give more than you get
2. To obtain freedom: adopt discipline
3. To gain tomorrow: sacrifice today
4. To be secure: take risks
5. To lead: serve
6. To get up: lift another
7. To get revenge: forgive
8. To win: find the lessons in loss
9. To fly: fall often
10. To change the world: change yourself

I can hear my friend saying, "Save it for the pulpit." But I get jazzed hearing talk like this from politicians. As a leader with serious responsibilities, he's on the lookout for the best thinking, which often leads to the best doing and feeling.

Any thoughts on leadership styles?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Candidates Chase Skirts

And no, I'm not talking about bimbo eruptions and Secret Service prostitution scandals. I'm talking about the presidential candidates duking it out for the female vote in November.

I've admired Ann Romney since the 2008 presidential campaign. She is well-spoken and genuine. I've long wondered why she isn't the presidential candidate. She might have a real shot at winning.

So I didn't find it funny when a Democratic strategist said that Mrs. Romney had "never worked a day in her life," intimating that she couldn't therefore understand the economic pressures other mothers face. I was a stay-at-home mom for almost ten years, and I know what people in the world of productivity and commerce think of us. We're soap-opera addicted slackers who have let ourselves go, eating bonbons and whatnot. This attitude is what got me fired up to write this blog in the first place, to give voice and value to people who are doing the non-flashy work everyone depends on. When I was at home with my kids, I was a working mom, and I'm quite sure that although Mrs. Romney had help raising her kids, she too was a working mom. A functioning mom, who was emotionally involved with each of her five children. Just because I didn't get a paycheck for my work didn't make it any less valuable. My husband's paycheck was--and still isn't--anywhere near as large as Mr. Romney's, so I do know what from economic pressures.

What is laughable about this is how the Republican candidates and strategists have jumped on Hilary Rosen's foot-in-mouth statement as a sign that Democrats and by extension President Obama are out of touch with moms, wherever they work, and women in general.

I still think Obama and the Democrats have the advantage. One unfortunate statement from a strategist does not undo the fact that Republicans, led by Gov. Rick Perry, and shutting down Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas, and national Republicans are calling for cancellation of government support of family planning. The consequence is that women who live paycheck to paycheck and depend on free birth control and women's health screening will have access to neither. More women are going to get pregnant and have babies they can't support. And the fathers of their children are likely struggling, too.

Who's going to pay for this? The high-minded right-wing politicians and activists who are high-fiving each other for destroying Planned Parenthood clinics by a million cuts? Taxpayers will fund these stressed families, at a likely higher cost than supporting the services family-planning clinics provice, in the same way that taxpayers pay for health care for the working poor, the underinsured and the uninsured.

Some say it's a moral issue--that people who can't afford birth contol shouldn't be having sex. Please. Since when has poverty been equated with vows of celibacy? I work with a young man from Mexico who pointed out to me that in his country, people who are too poor to go out or can't afford a TV have the largest families. " 'Cause what else is there for them to do?" Oh, yeah, they could read the bible together, skipping the sexy parts, of course.

So it bears repeating: keeping Planned Parenthood and other family planning services strong is the best use of taxpayer money. I'm betting there will be a lot of other women who vote accordingly.