Back when the states were elbowing each other out of the way to get a spot at the head of the primary season schedule, poor little Pennsylvania seemed to get left behind the door. All the pundits were sure the race would be decided by February 5, leaving even the March primaries irrelevant. Pennsylvanias April 22 election looked like a pure formality.
But it seems that nothing in this primary season has gone according to expectation, and our Pennsylvania readers are now in the unexpected but enviable position of playing a pivotal, and probably deciding role, in determining who will be the next Democratic candidate for President. And to the extent that on a generic basis, a public increasingly disgusted with the current administration prefers a Democrat next time around by a significant margin, the way Pennsylvania votes may well determine the identity of the next President as well.
In approaching this fateful decision, one of the issues Pennsylvania voters will have to address is the question whether, as Hillary Clintons camp contends, Barack Obamas ability to elevate and inspire his followers merely conceals an empty core. That question is particularly interesting because it leads us to a meditation on what it is that makes a great leader. And while there are no doubt many qualities that contribute to great leadership, we submit that there is one element that is absolutely essential: great followers.
Leaders get things done, not by themselves, but by getting other people up on their feet and moving toward some set of goals. The smartest, most knowledgeable, most experienced people who cannot motivate others may be good at many things, but they cannot be great leaders. Conversely, there are people who scarcely have two ideas to rub together, but who have a massive influence on the course of events simply because they become a focus of energy for a group of others who share those two ideas, and who bring the needed intellect, expertise and ability to make them real.
It is this papers policy not to make endorsements, and we do not mean to imply, nor do we believe, that either of the two extreme characterizations above applies to any of the three Presidential candidates (including McCain) in particular. Rather, we wish to challenge all those who prefer one candidate or another—including McCain—to ask themselves the question: what effect does this person have on me? When they speak, does what they say make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or does it get me up on my feet to go out and do something that will move us toward the goals I care about?
With regard to any of the candidates, if theyre just making you feel better, they are not great leaders. If you like them because you think theyll take care of business in the White House while you pursue your private agenda and sleep sound in your bed, they are not great leaders. If you think their policies are good but you arent moved to get involved, theyre not great leaders. They are great leaders only if they can enroll you into a groundswell that can make their—and your—dreams for this country a reality.
If you favor a candidate, and you think he or she is a great leader: prove it. That doesnt just mean voting. It means getting out there, sharing with others why you like them, putting some shoe leather on the road, handing out leaflets, making telephone calls, affixing stamps and doing whatever your chosen campaign needs to do to close the deal.
And if your choice actually wins, thats only the beginning. They will still need you as President—in fact, then more than ever. Youll know youve chosen a great leader if you find yourself out there along with the other citizens theyve inspired, working to make America a better place.
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As your February 28 editorial stated, the issue of waste disposal must be addressed with some urgency. Where my backyard ends and yours begins is only about surface, an illusion at best. There is no over there when all is connected through air, water and soil.
A 200-mile-deep living skin of air, water, and soil supports the biological life on this planet. We are custodians of this earth commons and certain of our management protocols need revision. Packaging should be high on the list.
Most of our daily trash is the shell of consumable items. We pay dearly and many times over for packaging: in the purchase price of the item; in the cost of disposing of the packaging; in the environmental cost of landfills; in the adverse effects of leaching toxins and chemicals; in the drugs and treatments to counter the poisoning of our bodies; and in the suffering ill health brings about.