Refusing to Listen is Failing to Serve

When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, he campaigned as a center-left politician who eventually got in trouble for pushing nationalized health care (Hillarycare) and taking the nation in a liberal direction. He was rebuked by the avalanche of the 1994 elections (remember the “Contract With America“) when the Republicans swept both the House and Senate.

A course correction was needed to serve the people and the American vision.

President Clinton needed to listen.

That’s the essence of both servant and democratic leadership–the will of the people should prevail. The American vision is people rule (self-government) under God.

I wrote a book on servant leadership in 1989 called Leadership for the 21st Century: Changing Nations Through the Power of Serving. The book centers on ten attitudes and ten actions of a servant leader that are exemplified in the life of Jesus. Servant leaders always put the needs and desires of others above their own.

If you’ve never read Leadership for the 21st Century, I’d be glad to send you a personalized copy. Besides the ten character qualities, the book is worth the “prophecy” contained in the first chapter that amazingly became true over the past twenty years. The other is the Appendix where I shared William McDonald’s twenty-five qualities of leadership that made Jesus the greatest servant leader of men.

Drop me a note with any donation (YWAM, P.O. Box 1634, Port Orchard, WA USA 98367) and I’ll send you a copy.

It would make a great Christmas read.

Then there’s the aspect of democratic leadership. In republican democracies, representatives of the people are elected for two primary reasons: 1) To protect the God-given rights of the people, and 2) To legislate their concerns into law.

Servants care about people’s desires and real democrats do too. Democratic governments are uniquely designed to benefit the people.

Now back to President Clinton.

After a shellacking in the 1992 elections, to his credit, President Clinton recognized democratic realities (and also good politics), admitted that the nation had spoken, and that he needed to change.  Over a number of months he pivoted to the political center for the good of the nation.

Before his pivot he had become “The Incredible Shrinking President” (remember that cover story of TIME magazine in 1992?). After he humbled himself and changed course, he became a relatively successful president. What followed was a season of bi-partisanship in politics, social stability, and economic growth led by a Republican-controlled Congress and a begrudging but cooperative presidency.

Bill Clinton was willing to change course when shown he was wrong. As a result, he ended up getting major credit for the first balanced budget in years, and despite the Monica Lewinsky sexual scandal, ended his term in high popularity with the American people.

He listened. Both he and the nation were blessed.

Now fast-forward to 2008. 

A nation tired of war and worried about economic uncertainties again voted for a supposed center-left politician–Barack Obama. He was well-spoken and charismatic–although grossly under qualified for the highest office in the nation. He had never run a business or met a payroll. Most of the life had been spent on the public dole or in community organizing activities. He was a state senator for seven short years and US Senator for only two. He’d never led anything, and had been involved in politics for less than a decade.

His major track record related to radical causes

Yet, because of a supportive press, and the failure of the Republicans to live up to their ideals, the American people elected Barack Obama to lead the most important nation on earth.

Upon assuming office in January, 2008, he immediately tacked to the left just as Bill Clinton had done sixteen years before–and Jimmy Carter sixteen years before that.

We seem to get a liberal assault every sixteen years or so.

And now–after two years of radically liberal policies:

  • Three trillion dollars in excessive government spending
  • Chicago-style arm-twisting, back room deals, and appointing numerous “czars” 
  • Pushing destructive environmental causes (Copenhagen Summit and Cap and Trade legislation)
  • Weakness in the war on terror (refusing even to use the word),
  • Expanding the federal government by 10% and scores of thousands of jobs
  • Pushing through national health care–worse than Hillarycare–that bears his name.
  • And vowing to vastly alter the American nation through massive income re-distribution,

Barack Obama has arrived at the “shrinking president moment” faced by Bill Clinton in 1992. Repudiated by a landslide election on November 2–far worse than the 1992 debacle on a national scale–President Obama had the opportunity to humble himself, accept a political defeat, and be servant-like, and democratic by turning back to the traditional American center.

He could have pivoted America back toward fiscal sanity and moral rightness.

Instead, he pushed for a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (the homosexualization of the American Armed Forces), and continued to hold out on raising taxes on successful small businesses and wealthy individuals–the ones who create jobs in the economy.

He’s not listening.

So he’s neither being democratic nor acting as a servant leader.

Barack Obama has proven to be a radical ideologue who doesn’t understand democracy and appears to have no desire to serve the will of the people. He ultimately lost the battle to raise taxes, but not because he’s repentant and willing to change.

He just doesn’t have the votes.

As long as he proudly stays the secular-progressive course, he will continue to shrink as a leader  (now down to 39% in public popularity) and hurt the American nation.

We are witnessing a colossal failure in democratic, servant leadership.

It pains me to write these words. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, to stay clear of questioning others’ motivations, and give them a chance to perform. For the past two years I have been waiting for a “wiser” Barack Obama to emerge or evolve. I wishfully thought that the awe and realities of the office of the POTUS would soften his perspective on the great issues of our day.

I have been deeply disappointed–as has much of the nation. After the November mid-terms, which were an historical tidal wave for conservative candidates on both a state and national level, I again hoped Barack Obama would step to the teleprompter and say something like this to the American people:

“My fellow Americans, you have spoken clearly through the election results. I have been humbled by your voice and want to respond to the will of the people. “Let me be clear: the people are the true leaders of the United States of America, and as our leaders you have told us to change course.”

“You do not want us to increase the size and growth of the Federal government. You want power returned to the people and also to the states. You don’t want us to follow the pathway of Europe, but return to the American dream of individual freedom, a Constitutional republic and limited powers of government control.”

“I have heard your concerns and will respond to your will. Together, let us do the right things to make our nation great again.”

I’d love to hear those words from our 44th president.

Humility and truth are beautiful things.

So is the ability to listen.

But it doesn’t look like they will be forthcoming. Barack Obama is more a radical version of Jimmy Carter than a pragmatic-oriented Bill Clinton.

In my heart,  I hope that President Obama will still see the light and pivot toward the truth. If he doesn’t, the American nation could be in store for some very dark days ahead.

We are sadly witnessing a colossal failure of democratic servant leadership.

Let us pray fervently for our president–and live as servant leaders in the spheres God has given to each one of us..



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