Clear and Explicit Leadership

RC is explicitly not a political action organization, but it is most useful in encouraging people to think and act on important political questions. This organization has continued to thrive and grow over the last twenty-five years, while many others I've been part of have fallen by the wayside. I think that one important part of its success has been understanding the functions of leadership. The group is peerful, but leadership is clear and explicit. Attacks on leaders are attempted (as they are universally in successful organizations), but enough people recognize the hurt that motivates and the hurtfulness that results from attacks to reject them. At the same time, there is a mechanism available to help leaders correct their mistakes. The idea of being supported as a human being and a leader even when you have made a mistake seems revolutionary to me, and it begins to make leadership look more attractive and less dangerous. It allows leaders to feel more safe and act more as peers, and this in turn makes for better, more effective leadership.

Goodness knows we need more effective leadership in the wide world. I don't envy the people out there trying. I'll never forget how Thomas Eagleton's prior history of depression immediately disqualified him as a vice-presidential candidate, or how Pat Schroeder's crying in public was used to squash her presidential ambitions. Repressive notions about "mental health" must be added to the list of oppressions such as classism, racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, which are used by the society to divide us. The progressive end of the political spectrum may have dropped off the end of the world into the void as far as the mainstream media are concerned, but we must continue to be visible to each other and also try to keep visibly in the fray. Solid leadership of a broad-based progressive movement will be very much in demand in the not-too-distant future, so let's all lead now!

Eric Lessinger
Trumansburg, New York, USA


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00