Leadership is not a Popularity Contest

By | October 13, 2018

By guest blogger Sadako Red [see disclaimer]

[October 13, 2018]  “Evil is not what leaders say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”  U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy said these words shortly before he was assassinated by a Palestinian immigrant in the politically-turbulent times of America in 1968. Hmmmm, yes … that is one way to describe the late 1960s or perhaps flower power, we shall overcome, give peace a chance, make love not war, and the iconic smiley face were all part of a society ripping itself apart over opposition to the Vietnam War but, in reality, for equality for African Americans; legally and socially.  Those times were complex and difficult for anyone running for political office and the idea that popularity of an idea, any idea, was at the forefront of the minds of all politicians.  But as we shall see here, leadership is not a popularity contest and what we say and do affects all citizens regardless of our position, wealth, or stature.

How we treat others unquestionably tells us about the nature of our character.  War to the side for a moment, the way we discuss differences of opinion or thoughts about any particular idea says much about who we are and how we will perform as a person or leader over our lifetime.  That is why I’m all for the recording of all public conversations.  Yep, that’s right.  All of them.  I’m for it because what we say today says more about who we are and how we will become – good or bad – and it gives everyone an opportunity to go back and replay those words we spoke.  Knowing that we will be recorded will perhaps make us a little more cautious and prudent about our words.  Unless you’re an idiot, one winning tactic for any politician is to talk about American values and since all politicians want to be popular, doing so is a good way to get our name out there safely.  Other politicians have turned this idea upside down and have taken it upon themselves to deride their political opposition; not so much their opponent’s ideas but the person themselves.  Such thinking is madness at the volcanic level.

Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, yes I know that I’m being wicked and unfair bringing them up but bear with me a moment, both attacked their political enemies by telling us peons – who are dirty and unworthy of their attention – that we should no longer be civil persons but that violence is acceptable … no no, I got that wrong, that violence is required now to bring down their opponents.  My dear friends, we all know and can appreciate failed leaders when we see them in action.  Hillary and Eric are the personification of what the old Soviet Union KGB used to call their-paid-for Vietnam War protesters …“useful idiots.”  Name-calling, threats of violence, and words that implicate these behaviors are about failed leadership.  Many are attracted to violence; somehow violence is cathartic and satisfying to the flawed souls of the lost.   Like the religion of Socialism that destroyed over 100 million lives in the 20th century, moths are attracted to the light and both Hillary and Eric who are a bright light among the dull, aged that occupy much of our political elite institutions.

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, the gadfly of Athenians, once wrote that “when the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser” and he does know what this is about given his trail and execution by the political elites of his day.  Failed leaders resort to Socrates’ tool of the loser as they set about to regain their lost power and prestige by whatever means are at hand.  What they lose in this endless quest is their dignity and honor; those very characteristics that ‘leave on horseback and return by foot.’  I’m not overcome by sadness at their behavior for I’m also not surprised except that it took so long for their true self’s to come out into the open.  I love watching these tools used in modern life; they don’t work anymore despite what we are told by the news media.  I will sit back, enjoy my dog and easy chair, and have my colleagues pass me popcorn as we enjoy the show. Remeber that leadership is not a popularity contest.

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Author: Sadako Red

Author: Sadako Red Disclaimer: I chose the pen name Sadako Red in order to remove any notoriety reflecting on my other real job as a very senior executive in the Department of Defense. Naturally, my opinion is my opinion only and despite DoD wanting to associate with my fine work, they cannot have it. Trust me, they want it. Trust me, they can’t stand for it.

26 thoughts on “Leadership is not a Popularity Contest

  1. Sadako Red

    A special thank you to all my devoted, dear readers and critics who take their time to read through my thoughts. Also, I appreciate General Satterfield giving me the anonymous platform to put ideas out that are more common in Washington DC than you might think.

  2. Maureen S. Sullivan

    I almost missed your article. Thanks S.R. for another fine article.

  3. Nick Lighthouse

    Big fan of Sadako Red
    Big fan of Sadako Red
    Big fan of Sadako Red
    … just like in school. I always had to write on the board what I was supposed to do yet today I write what I want.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Nearly spit my coffee out my nose with your comment. Hahahaha!

  4. Army Captain

    In the US military, we’ve known for a long time and have been educated to know that popularity is not required for good leadership. However, it can make a difference and so you don’t certainly want to be hated by your troops. So there is something behind being popular that helps.

  5. Gil Johnson

    Am I the first real and dedicated fan of Sadako Red? Of course not but I’m always reading his articles and wish he would write more for us.

  6. Max Foster

    Dirty tricks are those political maneuvers that go beyond mere negative campaigning. They involve the secret subversion of an opponent’s campaign via outright lies, spying, or any other tactic intended to divert attention from policies in an underhanded or unethical way. At their best, dirty tricks erode the public’s conference in the political system, and at worst they can cost lives.

    1. Scotty Bush

      As usual, great comment. I think that our political leaders are not much like us anymore.

    2. Danny Burkholder

      Next time you think that today’s politicians have brought campaigning to a new low, just remember to keep the election of 1800 in mind. Dirty tricks are not a modern invention and none other than Thomas Jefferson pioneered the oldest one in the book—spreading outright lies about your opponent. Good comment, Max.

    3. Danny Burkholder

      Good comment Max. Thanks for your typically spot-on look at leadership issues.

  7. Jerome Smith

    Lots of great stuff out on the Internet that lets us see the “real” politicians and their lack of both moral courage and lack of good character. Yes, Socrates was right, to attack the person and not the idea is the bane of good leadership.

  8. Lynn Pitts

    Constant acts of degradation and accusation have real consequences. They not only offend others but change the goal of discourse. Usually one enters a debate in order to prove why their opinion is right and should be accepted by others. Personally attacking others doesn’t prove anything about views but rather seeks to invalidate others.

  9. Doug Smith

    It’s difficult to find really good articles that go to the heart of leadership and this is one of them. Thanks for listing all the other articles by Sadako Red.

  10. Big Al

    I am another long-time fan of Sadako Red and will always be. Let us know who you are and if you have Twitter and Facebook. Thanks.

  11. Ed Berkmeister

    Great article. I would encourage Gen. Satterfield to have more guest writers like this one.

  12. Gil Johnson

    Loving it. You are the best, Sadako Red. Keep up writing for General Satterfield’s blog.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Bryan Lee

    Well said. Let’s not overlook one of your main points that going after others (and not their ideas) is a serious character flaw. Even during wartime, going after the ideology of the enemy is a good thing. To call the enemy’s leaders crazy or nuts just doesn’t get you very far.

  14. Eric Coda

    I’ve always been a big fan of you and this article is exactly why. Well done. I’m glad someone is willing to stand up and say what is really true. Leadership is not about popularity and its not about attacking the character of your opponents.

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