Tears and Laughter: Public office is not a pulpit

The ability to shut-up is a gift. Knowing what to say and what not to say is a skill. Anybody parading around Camden claiming to be the chosen leader selected by the divine to rectify Wilcox County in the next election should probably be armed with both.

Leadership is a vague term. Nobody here expects it. We don’t know what it looks like. It has never existed. We know this based upon well documented past failures, current dysfunction, and a steady decline in population for the last 115 years.

It was poor leadership that helped secure this status for Wilcox County. Poor leadership is why we are insignificant in Montgomery and a joke everywhere else. So if you have been involved in local politics for the greater part of the last 20 years, and in that time your leadership ability, combined with the hand of God on your shoulder, could not find the strength or boldness to squelch the corruption, stealing, and voter fraud – another spin through is not likely to produce any greater results.

Leaders are judged by the results they produce, and bad leaders were almost always unproductive employees somewhere in the past. They forget there is history.

Young leaders tend to be cocky. They so badly want to be perceived as the man with the answers. They think other people should want to be like them. They think they need to tell everybody what to do and who to believe. They micro manage. And micro managing is a sign of poor leadership.

Genuine leaders think before they speak. They do not berate. They do not switch between politician and preacher. Genuine leaders are tactful and always composed. A leader who loses control under adversity forfeits all of their respect and influence. Even if they come back offering a lukewarm apology about being passionate.

True leadership is an internal quality. It needs no show of external force. It doesn’t have to brag or manipulate. It doesn’t blame.

Real leaders do not have to pressure people, nor do they have to take credit constantly. They are not self-seeking because they have no need for that kind of ego boost. They are aware of their responsibility to others. They do not push their own agenda. They listen without interrupting, they admit when they are wrong, and they maintain proper conduct at all times.

Authentic leaders usually do serve a higher purpose. They also have the mental capacity to accept others do too.

Wilcox County is not searching for a savior in the next election. The point of serving in public office is not to lead citizens spiritually, even if those serving in office believe they are spiritually led. Just like having an opening prayer before a meeting is good and right and appropriate, yet it doesn’t make the courthouse a church. That is not its responsibility. Wilcox County is in the Bible Belt. We already have plenty of churches. What we need are just a few fairly honest and relatively sane people to run for office. Preferably people who can get elected without collecting illegal absentee ballots or buying votes and can manage the county’s business without making it look like idiots are in charge of the place.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.