As we head into 2020, the Democrats have to make a decision. Specifically, Nancy Pelosi needs to make a decision and move. Her unwillingness or inability to move forward and open hearings on Trump may hand him the election in 2020 or, at a minimum, cost the Democrats the House and losses in the Senate. In the process, she may unwittingly prove to be Trump’s secret weapon.
And the problem boils down to one thing: Leadership or lack of it. And, yes, I have heard how she can count votes. I have heard and seen how she got the best of Trump but frankly this is not true leadership if it stops here. Leadership is about setting a clear direction and a tone that people can understand and get behind. Pelosi’s skills and comfort zone seem to fall within the range of a manager — a person who makes sure things are in order, keeps track of things and keeps things on track. To be clear this too is an important role. The issue is that she is in a leadership role and people are looking to her for leadership and she does not seem up to providing the leadership needed.
An analogy may help.
On a large boat, the leader sets the destination. He/she determines where the boat will go and the expectations. He/she will consult others to make sure that it is feasible and work to understand key challenges — but leaders often don’t stay in the weeds (or they won’t stay in all of them). Leaders will depend on managers to make sure that the crew is functioning well, that things are going as planned and to alert him/her to problems. Both are critical and, when you study the rise of great companies, you often find that there were two critical people in positions of power (a leader and a manager) even though culturally we often give credit to one — the leader who is often the person who is out front.
This key is that if either of the people (the manager or leader) is missing, the likelihood that the company fails increases significantly. Likewise, when you look at the cases of failures, you will find business after business in which a manager tried to act as a leader too or a leader felt he/she could also fulfill the requirements of a competent manager. Early on with low demands, this might work but, as the company grows, this is will drop.
Much like a boat, if someone does not make sure that all the little things are going well (a manager), it is difficult to execute the plan. Likewise, a manager without a big picture will keep things running smoothly to no where important and that will eventually result in failure.
In the United States we tend not to acknowledge these differences and roles. Because both types are typically put in charge of people, we tend interchange the terms or do not really pay attention to how completely different these roles are.
And politically this is going to cripple us.
Trump is a leader (I am not judging good or bad) but he leads in a way that makes management impossible (which is probably why he has only been able to establish a confederation of small companies).
Pelosi is in a leadership position but is a good manager (not a leader)— making it difficult for other leaders to emerge.
In both parties we have significant issues from a leadership/management model which is contributing to the crisis we face today.
That said when it comes to politics, people are looking to leadership. There is a genuine fear of appearing weak so much so that people will take bad leadership over no leadership.
Pelosi’s key role as House speaker is making the Dems look weak. She is concerned about upcoming elections, she is vote counting, she is looking at polls. In short she is doing everything but leading. She is leading the only institution on earth that can begin to do something about Trump. She says he “does not know right from wrong”, she has commented about his lack of ethics and the list can go on. While people like her comments, I am stunned that she, in the very same breath, will not move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry.
Think of it this way. If she really believes these things, what sort of person can stand there and not move forward with strength and determination?
Answer: A person who is NOT a leader. A person who is looking at the pieces and details. A person who does not have the conviction, the confidence or the strength to do what she knows is right. (Or it could be a person who is concerned about what else might be revealed and does not want it exposed. Not to feed the right wing talking points but one has to wonder under the circumstances.) Regardless, it is a person who can not see the larger picture and the importance of moving forward — of leading the polls instead of following them.
That is not to say all leadership is good but it is effective.
After 9–11 most people did not associate Sadam (Iraq) with 9–11. The events of 9–11 were attributed to Osama bin Laden. But Bush, etc wanted to invade Iraq. Did they sit there and look at the polls and think “what to do?”? No.
This is what they did as reported by the NYT:
“White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein.
The rollout of the strategy this week, they said, was planned long before President Bush’s vacation in Texas last month. It was not hastily concocted, they insisted, after some prominent Republicans began to raise doubts about moving against Mr. Hussein and administration officials made contradictory statements about the need for weapons inspectors in Iraq.
The White House decided, they said, that even with the appearance of disarray it was still more advantageous to wait until after Labor Day to kick off their plan.
‘’From a marketing point of view,’’ said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ‘’you don’t introduce new products in August.’’”
And they did move the polls and public opinion, by March 2003 when we invaded, people were more likely to support military actions.
Remember “mushroom cloud in the sky” was not something that randomly came up. That was a speaking point from September 2002 — it was part of the campaign.
For better or worse, this was leadership and it was effective.
Leadership is not looking at current polls and letting them drive future actions.
So what does Pelosi need to do?
- Understanding that she needs to educate people to pressure the GOP and move the needle, she needs to pick a singular point of focus and push everything to the back. I would suggest the Mueller’s case for obstruction. He has largely investigated much of it. This is actually relatively simple. It does not involved complicated tax laws. It is simple. Additionally, history is on her side. This was part of both Clinton’s and Nixon’s impeachment.
- Then she needs to put together a multi-pronged strategy to educate and influence. There needs to be hearings and they need to demonstrate their determination and strength in how they compel people to testify.
- She needs to work with others to stay on message and on point. They can not get distracted or distract. This will require her pushing discipline. (Not easy for the left but she needs to do it.)
- She also needs to work with others to educate people using other means. Other organization can product videos that explain what his happening.
But bottom line is that she needs to, crudely stated, “shit or get off the pot”.
And if she chooses to continue to waiver, to get caught in the weeds, to provide an incredible lack of direction then she risks loosing the House and the Senate.
Because if neither political party is going to hold Trump accountable, then why vote for Dems who have demonstrated remarkable weakness? The GOP is bad enough but this starts in the House. The GOP Senate can not be held accountable for their choices if the House does not move and push them on it. Even worse, if Trump’s contempt for the law gets worse, the Dems will have proven themselves feckless and weak. To think that he will not be emboldened to be even more outrageous is to defy everything he has demonstrated over the last three years and, with the lack of action by the House, they will no longer be able to blame the GOP or Trump. They gave him a pass when they had a shot. They are in the same enabling basket as the GOP.
And that is why she risks losing everything and she is putting the country at risk of the same.
The reasons come from the states of various groups of people who are up for grabs:
- People who want change but may not be happy with the change Trump has brought. Pelosi is not giving them anything else to grasp on to. What does she (and the Dems in the House) stand for? She is not clear. The GOP, however, will exploit this and define them in unfavorable terms.
- People who respect leadership and strength. They may not like how Trump is doing it but they fear appearing weak to others. It goes back to not taking a stand — to not having a message — to waffling. There is something about authenticity that is appealing — even you don’t don’t agree.
- People do are sick of party over country/principle. The previous two play into the perception that she is putting party over country/principle. Their view is that they have to choose between two very unprincipled groups. One is doing wrong but the other won’t do anything about it — making them accomplices and, even worse, they have abandoned their constitutional responsibility.
And this boils down to simply lack of leadership. I have heard people say she is good at counting votes and that she is getting to Trump but these are small things. Yes, they are important, but right now the party needs leadership. Someone who will set a clear direction and work to get others to follow. She is effectively acting as a manager and, while they fill an important role, her position, this time in history requires a leader. She has shown she is clearly not that person.