What makes a great president?
What makes an effective leader?
Obviously, a great leader has a wide range of skills and virtues, but I think most of us would now agree that the leader of the United States needs more than charisma or to be someone you want to have a beer with.
A Visionary? Or an Implementer?
Two of the most important wide-range characteristics that make for a great leader are that of being a Visionary and an Implementer.
These are two different skill sets that are not often both found in one person. They don’t conflict but are almost diametrically opposed — right brain/ left brain skills. Most of us have strong characteristics of one or the other. We’re either good at seeing the big picture, reflecting, envisioning and planning- or we’re good at the nitty-gritty of putting a plan into action— getting it done.
It’s possible for a Visionary president to be effective if they bring great Implementers on board to keep them organized and efficiently transforming their ideas into concrete and effective reality.
But any leader (especially a U.S. President) who is an open-minded creative thinker, who is also intellectually organized, knows how to put together a top tier, experienced team, and has the “get it done” drive and skills…is likely your most effective leader.
Bernie Sanders is a Visionary. He’s been committed to a vision of the United States as a country that treats everyone fairly. Sanders gets credit for bringing policy issues into the mainstream that a few years ago were considered “radical.” He also has had an unwavering commitment to working families, and he recognized climate change as a national security threat before anyone else understood why.
But I can’t say that I have faith in Bernie’s ability to turn his vision into reality. Looking at numerous aspects I don’t see him as having the organizational and implementation skills to put ideas into practice as effectively as I think others can. He’s not enough of a people-person and it seems his campaign hasn’t run with the smooth efficiency that I see in other campaigns.
Biden seems to be an Implementer but without enough innovative creativity…and a vision that hasn’t rebooted since the 20th century. The needle of his record player is stuck at the end of his album in a scratchy loop.
I think Kamala Harris is an Implementor, but first and foremost she’s a prosecutor. And I’m not sure she has the capacity to expand beyond that enough to be effective as our country’s leader at this time.
But Elizabeth Warren has it all.
She’s got the Vision, but it’s the Implementor in her that makes me feel confident that she’s the complete package.
You can tell a lot about a candidate by how they run their campaign. Do they make good staffing choices? Do they know how to attract the right people? Do their day-to-day operations run smoothly with staff who work well together?
Warren is proving herself more every day by how she’s strategically developed her plans, her team, and her campaign’s field program.
Since you brought it up… Let’s talk about gender, because it’s beyond relevant. Sure it’s a stereotype to say that women can “do it all — and all at once”…but the truth is most of us can — and with a baby on our hip.
Guess what? That’s the story of Elizabeth Warren’s life. She naturally has the multitasking skills to do a zillion things simultaneously. She “gets” what working mothers are up against because she was one. She had privilege as a white woman, but the childcare issue almost halted her blossoming career.
She was fortunate that Aunt Bee came to the rescue.
Her unmarried elder aunt packed up her dog Buddy, dropped everything else, left her life in Oklahoma and arrived two days later to serve her country by making life manageable for our future president. (my tears well up as the generosity and service of this woman sinks in)
I think it’s safe to say that none of the men on the presidential debate stage ever had this experience. Several candidates struggled in a variety of ways and experienced discrimination because of their color, but none were faced with putting their career on hold because they couldn’t find good childcare.
She has a wide perspective and a small enough ego to be “teachable.”
When she worked with families filing for bankruptcy and it became clear to her that they were not the irresponsible people she had first assumed…but were victims of an unfair system, she had an awakening.
She saw the big picture. She understood the magnitude of it.
“The visionary captains the ship and grabs all the attention.”
“The implementer is the guy who actually built the ship the captain needed before he could be anything other than some guy standing on a wharf looking wistfully out at other captains sailing their ships.”
In her broad and inclusive vision, Elizabeth Warren sees the intricacies of a rigged system. She recognizes the obstacles for women and people of color. She understands that it’s the marginalized communities that bear the brunt of inequality. And she imagines a different world.
Elizabeth Warren zeros in on each segment of the big picture.
She knows what’s broken…and
She’s GOT a PLAN to Fix It!
She’s the leader with a panoramic view of what so many Americans are up against.
What’s most striking about her now is that she listens.
She sees a few remaining crumbs of the so-called American Dream…a dream achievable by one segment of the population….and a comparative handful by no-white demographics who managed to overcome the odds.
Yet Warren doesn’t pretend to know everything. She wants to hear from her supporters and she wants to hear from those still undecided.
Her Selfie Lines have turned into meet-the-candidate speed-dating.
She interacts with every person who waits in line. They each have only a minute or even seconds, but she’s all ears. She listens closely to what they need to tell her or she gives a succinct answer to a burning question or accepts the note they pass to her to read later.
She’s constantly taking in new information and all of it broadens her viewpoint and informs her implementation strategy.
She has plans for what to do…and I have complete confidence that she’ll do it.
How can I possibly know this?
I’ve studied people and the spectrum of human behavior for most of my adult life. And I’m pretty good at assessing who has the capacity to pull their dreams and ideas together, formulate a plan, access the best resources, assemble a stellar team, and make it happen.
“Supporters say that this playbook — merging external activism with practical political maneuvering — makes Warren more likely to get things done.” — How Elizabeth Warren Made Fighting Corruption A Feminist Rallying Cry, September 17, 2019
I believe she’ll govern with determination and unstoppable energy.
And in the best interests of the people.
But let’s take a look at this Vox article by Emily Stewart:
“A detailed look at Warren’s successes and failures at the start of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and what they tell us about how she might govern.”
She wants to finish what she started when she first came to Washington. And she will bring with her a cadre of energetic, ideologically committed regulators who will go after the bad guys of corporate America who she believes have crippled the national economy.”
One of her primary agenda items (for the CFPB) was devising a meaningful system for consumers to file complaints. (and she)…insisted the CFPB have a logo, not a seal, so that it was friendlier to the public.
She spent years studying bankruptcy and observed first-hand how backroom deals between industry executives and lawmakers made it easier for one financial setback to shatter people’s lives.”
-Vox article, Elizabeth Warren Has Just One Plan
The most striking line from the piece above is that…
Yes, she did. That’s the level of her skill and competency. She’s smart as a whip and doesn’t miss a beat.
“She’s done so many things that seem random but that have totally changed the game, because she knows about the administrative toolkit” -former CFPB official.
“…it all boils down to one central scheme: Get in there, bring a bunch of true believers with her, and overhaul from within the corrupt system she loathes.”
Some Consumer Financial Protection Bureau administration officials stated:
“In public, she was all righteous fury.
In private, they often saw a more reasonable figure…
Even those most critical of Warren say she brandished her pragmatism more than her populism while at Treasury and say she was effective as a result. The inspector general, whose job is to find problems, was rather complimentary of Warren’s tenure. Some former officials also say they were impressed at the administration skills of an academic with almost no management experience.”
— Why Warren Would Be a More Effective President Than Sanders, Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, September 16, 2019
A day after the above article, I ran across this published in Vice — This is How Elizabeth Warren is Winning Over Bernie Sanders Supporter
“…there are a lot of former Sanders supporters out there who have started to gravitate to Warren, loving her mix of class rage and policy gravitas.
“In 2016 I was a huge Bernie girl,” said Cam Tejeda, a 21-year-old political science major at New York University. “But if I could find a nice medium between Bernie and Hillary, someone who’s not too provocative but also knows what needs to get done, it’s her.
When you run a platform based on policy, but with the correct values, rather than based [almost entirely] on values, you can get shit done,” Tejeda said, capturing a widespread sentiment among Warren supporters: their candidate’s relative pragmatism wasn’t a drawback.” — This is How Elizabeth Warren is Winning Over Bernie Sanders Supporters
I started writing this piece on September 13th before I’d read any articles about Warren that mentioned anything positive about her gender.
While most of the “is she electable?” and other sexist articles were now left behind in the misogynist dust, I hadn’t seen anything that dared to do what I was about to do…cue up Maria Muldaur belting out I’m a Woman and claim it’s about Elizabeth Warren:
“I can starch & iron 2 dozens shirts ‘fore you can count from 1 to 9.
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippins can.
Throw it in the skillet, do my shopping…
And get elected president, before it melts in the pan…
’Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N…”
I stepped away from this piece for a few days and wouldn’t you know it, on September 17, 2019, I finally see an article about Warren that mentions “women’s issues” —
But it was Warren herself who decided to talk about women.
To over 20,000 people in New York City’s Washington Square, she talked about…Women who fought for workers protection:
“I wanted to give this speech right here, and not because of the arch behind me or the president that the park is named for,” she said to a sea of blue “Warren” signs. “We are not here because of famous arches or famous men — in fact, we’re not here because of men at all,” she added, drawing whoops and laughter. “We’re here because of some hard-working women. Women who, more than a hundred years ago, worked long hours in a brown, 10-story building … Women that worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.”
— Senator Elizabeth Warren
And one woman in particular — Frances Perkins, an activist-turned-politician, who vowed to fight for the rights of laborers after witnessing those women jumping out of the burning factory in 1911.
Perkins became Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and “worked the political system relentlessly from the inside, while a sustained movement applied pressure from the outside,” Warren said, winkingly addressing Perkins as, “one woman, one very persistent woman.”
InStyle Journalist Sam Reed writes:
“Warren’s decision to frame her speech around the work of one trailblazing woman who began her work before women even had the right to vote implied…
“women know how to get shit done.”
Yes, they do!
And I’m a Visionary who sees my (soon-to-be-former) Massachusetts Senator sitting at her desk in the Oval surrounded by her team of kick-ass White House advisors.