Friday, October 24, 2008

Arrogance of Power

Have you ever known someone that thinks they’re indispensible? These are the folks that think they’re the only one who can finish a project the “right” way, or only one who really “understands” the issues, or that their proposed “solution” is the only one that will really work. You see a lot of these folks in leadership positions. They’re generally well-intentioned, highly-motivated, and extremely competent folks. But for some reason, they develop a kind of myopic arrogance that leads them to believe their way is the only way, or their view is the only view. I don’t know if it’s the exercise of authority or power that leads to the growth of this arrogant belief in their own power, or if it is something in the person’s makeup. But, I do know that someone who is a great leader never thinks they’re indispensible. Great leaders are confident in them selves, and may even be a bit arrogant, but they are not arrogant in their power. They listen to other’s ideas and make a decision on the best course of action without believing that they’re always right.

It seems that politicians often develop this arrogance of power. They start out leading others with good, well-intentioned ideas and motives; and end up so confident in their own abilities and point of view that they lose track of what’s really important. They lose track of the idea that a politician is a public servant, and become invested in the idea that the public is there to serve them. They become so arrogant in their power that they will do anything to get elected or re-elected. It’s a great argument for term limits, isn’t it?

Col. Oliver North has an interesting post on FOXNews, titled When Leaders Get Messiah Complexes that touches on the impact of what I call arrogance of power. Col. North agrees with me that leadership matters, and that (unfortunately) many leaders develop this arrogance in their own power. Col. North describes it as a “messiah complex;” that these leaders come to believe they are the only ones who can provide what is necessary at the time it’s needed. Col. North cites several examples of leaders who developed a “messiah complex; including Napoleon (who had himself declared Emperor of France because he thought he was essential to France’s future), Hitler (who claimed he needed to preserve the Aryan race), Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Kim Jung Il.

According to Col. North, American’s have resisted following leaders who possess this arrogance of power or a type of messianic complex. Most of our leaders have been humble men, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman. For the most part, Americans tend to like limited government and want public servants to be just that; someone who serves the public good.

Col. North, however, witnessed an event that he found disturbing and shook his belief that the American public understands the dangers of believing a leader, particularly a political leader, is somehow a savior. Col. North describes,

”During Wednesday afternoon’s rush hour, I was making my way home on the “Dulles Greenway” when a phalanx of police motorcycles and cruisers stopped all traffic and ordered us to pull or vehicles off the highway onto the shoulders. Over a loudspeaker we were told to stay put until the Obama campaign convoy passed, on the way to a rally in Leesburg, Virginia.

Instantly, hundreds of people were out of their cars. Directly in front of me a group of supporters—evident by their bumper stickers—jumped out with cameras, cell phones and banners. They began chanting: “The Messiah! He’s coming! Obama is coming!” The shouting only intensified as the candidate and his entourage—motorcycles, police cars, black Secret Service Suburbans and busses—roared past us.”

Col. North found the event profoundly upsetting, because he saw so many who apparently believe that Senator Obama, if he is elected the next President, could save us from ourselves. That somehow only Senator Obama has the key to a brilliant future. I agree with Col. North that this almost messianic belief that many of our countrymen (and women) have developed is a recipe for disaster. Senator Obama, and many of his advisors, are sufficiently invested in their beliefs that they’ve developed that arrogance of power, that messianic complex, and believe that their way is the only way. Col. North reminds Senator Obama that “humility is a virtue that has distinguished our greatest leaders.” Personally, I think that reminder has come too late. If you look at Senator Obama’s entire presidential campaign, from his ads, to the Greek-columned acceptance speech, to the attempt to suppress opposite views, to the manipulation of facts; it’s clear to me that the arrogance of power is firmly established in his belief that only he can be the agent of hope and change. Scary, isn’t it?


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/24/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Ky Woman said...

if you ask me, it's worse than scary...

It makes you wonder how so many can be so blindly led by him. Then again, people have been duped before.

Will they never learn??