Monday, February 16, 2009

True Leadership

What is a true leader ? Today on President’s Day, it is the perfect time to reflect on what makes a true leader. Leaders are not born. They are made. Look at the men who rose to the occasion to fight for and create the first democracy in the world ? It would have been a lot easier for them to have rested on their laurels and continued to have life made easy by the British, at the time the most powerful country in the world. Those Founders had a vision: one where the people could have a say in their own governance, a government ruled by elected people opposed to monarchies and merely the rich. They sacrificed their time, money, efforts and opportunities in hopes that something better would come from their efforts. Leaders do things that go beyond their own bottom lines and self interest. They venture out of their comfort zone to make the world a better place for others.

Today, I am saddened by the 80s mentality of Wall Street greed where money is king. Twenty years after that famous movie the only thing that has changed is the fact that this greed has gone from an admired trait to a pervasive sickness. Case in point, I know very few lawyers who will do anything unless it involves money. You can’t get them to drive to Austin or their state capitol to lobby for good laws because they aren’t getting paid. They could care less even when the laws being passed hurt their clients. This isn’t just in Texas; it is nationwide. Kids just aren’t graduating from lawschool with the right principles. Everyone just wants to make money, justice is a hoped for side benefit for most. Lawyers come from an old school of thought where your license allowed you to make money but more importantly it shouldered you with a responsibility to make the world a better place armed with the power of the law. Of all the lawyers I know besides myself I can only say that Chris Hoover , Charles Kingsbury and Larry Boyd are the only DWI lawyers in Texas that have genuinely cared enough to venture out to Austin on a regular basis voluntarily when it really mattered even though it didn’t make us any money (many of the laws we fought for meant losing money as lawyers but better for the citizens). To me, we are the Presidents of the Constitutional Law crowd- trying to make a difference. Even on a national level, it seems damn near impossible to meet a DWI lawyer who cares about fighting for good laws. I don’t know a single one outside of Texas besides Steve Oberman of Tennessee and Patrick McPherson of Hawaii that is involved legislatively. So there you have it folks, out of this whole country less than 2 handfuls really care about leadership when it comes to DWI justice where the laws are made and DWI is the number one crime in America (in terms of numbers of arrests).

On a personal level (maybe it’s because I am surrounded by lawyers and red neck rich wannabes), I am disgusted by the pure selfishness of people when it comes to their government. I am so sick of people crying for capital gains tax cuts and at the same time screaming about paying for welfare yet preaching abstinence among teenagers. That makes a whole lot of sense now doesn’t it ? Why is it that your “wear their religion on their sleeve” right wing Republicans can’t see their own hypocrisy ? They cry for teaching religion in the schools (creationism, such a joke) yet can’t teach basic human decency at home. They think as Sean Hannity said “government’s job is the national defense.” They forget that even monarchs took care of the mentally sick, disabled and diseased. It’s just sick to see a cycle of intellectual inferiorism be perpetuated all in the name of the Bible. Ugh. My leadership exercise this President’s Day is to proudly stand up and call bullshit. This country would be a lot better off if people would start thinking about their fellow human beings and ask how to make this country better. As a great leader named John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I will end on this note. Happy President’s Day in honor of the many leaders before us who put others first to make this country a better place. Young people, strive to define a better generation. It shouldn’t be that hard.

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