As I watch the build up to the U.S. Presidential election, I find myself shaking my head a lot. The sound bites can be deafening, sometimes mind-numbing and as worrisome as they can be at this point in the campaign. I often find myself cringing and anxious to speak out. Candidates, news stations and voices on social media feeds are adept at calling out the faults, shortcomings and their general dissatisfaction with the current aspirants and the state of the Union. I’ll leave that to them; I have no interest in derision and acrimony. But I do have an opinion on what I think is a key quality necessary for any people leader on his or her ability to make a positive, sustainable impact during their term.
The U.S. has always been a welcoming nation and it has achieved greatness on the shoulders, and minds of immigrants, coming with a dream to make America their home – to become American. I would like a leader who is inclusive – and not because they think it’s politically correct. I struggle to see the positive potential of a someone who divides their constituents into ‘groups’ and identifies people based on stereotypes. Someone who singles out specific ethnics, religions, politics or even sexual orientation as the basis for policy cannot be the most open minded person for the role. A good leader understands that a threat, just like an opportunity, can come from anyone, anywhere and does not incriminate a whole race. Decisions based on a divisive perspective are never acceptable; the stakes are too high – lives matter. A leader should value a diverse population and the rich textures and vibrant culture that it provides.
A leader who respects diversity can be trusted to make difficult decisions for the right reasons. Our ‘differences’ are perspectives to be respected; diversity enhances the decision making process with more intelligence and much more wisdom. Diversity is a benefit, not a barrier. This enhanced wisdom supports the myriad considerations and ensures policy is thoughtful and conducive to a healthy, nurturing environment that supports the growth and prosperity of all its citizens. This becomes even more important when those difficult decisions are required. How can you trust someone to do the right thing if they cannot see beyond the surface?
Fear mongers need not apply. A divisive leader and their agenda breed fear. Security, peace and the pursuit of happiness cannot flourish when we barricade ourselves from the outside world. Just like closing our minds off to our differences, when we cut ourselves off from the world, we ignore the reality that we live in a global community. And while everything is definitely not perfect, one cannot deny that great progress has been made by collaborating with our global partners on matters of industry, ecology, science, technology and especially peace – although there is a lot more work to be done. As leaders in that global community, the perspective should be more partnerships, not recessive policies that erase past progress.
Collaboration is the key. A leader should be focused on opportunities and removing obstacles to progress, by collaborating with all their citizens and the global community. We do not live on this planet alone and we are affected by the health of other nations whether we like it or not – it is today’s reality. Fear and scarcity breeds pride and jealousy: often leading to war. If we want to support our growth, emerging markets, and other partner nations, then we need to do it in a way that is sustainable and not susceptible to traditional risks e.g. famine, civil war, strife, disease. Similarly, if we want security on U.S. soil and safety for those of us who travel abroad, we must make peace and earn respect from our global neighbors…and we must reciprocate the sentiment for those visiting us. The focus of a leader should be on bringing people together, not separating them.
What is wrong with a leader who has manners, has a sense of class and carries themselves respectfully? I realize this is a bit superficial, but I do believe in grace whenever possible. I realize pop culture thrives on the irreverent, the shocking, and the overly provocative. However, there is a difference between pushing the envelope and changing the status quo in the name of progress and simply testing the boundaries of crudity and shock marketing. I would like a leader to be respectful; to abstain from profanity, racist comments and misogynistic behavior whenever possible – always. A leader should be able to debate their perspective with facts to support their points, and not rely on pompous, rude hyperbole and hubris.
It’s all about trust. I think a great starting point would be if we had a leader we could trust to make decisions based on their respect for all the people that make up this country, and the world that surrounds us. I am not naïve to think that you can please all of the people all of the time, but if your policy is based on respect, honesty and pushes away prejudice, then I feel I can trust that decision to be the best option. Otherwise, policy based on generalizations of who is good or bad, right or wrong because of race, skin color, religion, or who you love, is not really a thoughtful and sustainable policy.
I am an immigrant, and I respect this country with all my heart. Regardless of some of the irrational behavior going on in this presidential race, I trust the citizens of the United States of America to make the right choice for a brighter future.
Thank you for taking the time to hear me out.