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11 07 2010

Follow-the-Leader and the Pizza Pie Conspiracy

What is happening in Washington, in my opinion, is a general lack of understanding about how a democracy is supposed to work and a failure of “followership,” the companion to leadership. We focus so much on leadership that we have forgotten that if, leaders lead followers have to follow. Hidden agendas, ignorance, and personal biases and beliefs can stand in the way of the leadership/followership dyad working as it should. We recognize that we can have faulty leadership but what about inept followership? Kids do not play follow-the-leader anymore and neither did their parents! Remember, everyone took turns leading and others followed during their playmate’s turn? And yes, they learned this in kindergarten!

In a democracy, there is the rule of the majority, but the minority view is heard. Heard does not mean acted upon or that its proponents should put a monkey wrench into the works until they get what they want. The majority is obliged to listen to the minority, compromise where it can, but the rule is up to the majority. This is why people win elections and govern with their ideas. The minority politicians, who may have won locally on the healthcare debate, did not win nationally and this is where they should know their role. Yes, they should and have made their opinion known by representing their local constituents, but they are not in the majority for determining national policy. They lost the election where this issue was center stage. Losing means you do not win. You do not get the prize and your ideas must wait until you can convince more people that your way is best.

Being on the losing end of an argument is not uncommon.  Compromise and realizing that you do not have the majority opinion is responsible followership. This is how many groups make decisions even something as simple as what type of pizza to purchase for lunch. If we applied Washington politicians’ reasoning to buying pizza for the group, it would be like the group decided to have pepperoni pizza, but the vegetarians in the group, mighty number but not the majority, insisted that this was not a valid decision. The vegetarians insist that the others really do not want meat because it is too expensive and they will ruin their health. A few really hungry people in the group are waiting for the pizza because they are hungry and cannot afford to buy a pizza at all and they could never afford one with all of the toppings, especially the meat. This shared cost pizza is their only hope of getting a taste of what others in the group afford whenever they want.

So to prevent the majority from having a pepperoni pizza, the minority group stole the keys to the only car available to get to the pizza shop to purchase the pizza. A few even flattened the tires to the vehicle which, by the way, was the group’s bus that brought them to the retreat. This is also the only vehicle to get the group members back to the office to vote for higher wages and benefits, so if they can’t purchase pizza, they can’t vote.  The pepperoni pizza order has been called in, but no one can easily get to the shop to get the pizza because the opposing and dissenting vegetarian pizza lovers insist that the vote was not as it seemed.  The dissenters believe that people voting for meat pizza really did not know what they were voting for or how this was going to impact the farmers who grow the vegetables for the vegetarian pizza. The farmers might lose their farms since most of the people will be ordering meat pizzas. Meantime, the pizza shop owners and staff have been busy making pizza for this large order that they have had on the books for a while. After all, the event was pre-planned. Now, there is a stand-off with pizza ordered and no easy way to travel to get it.  To make things worse, there is a communication glitch and the cell tower is out and no land line was installed in the fancy retreat for the American Leadership Council. The pizza shop has no idea what is going on and if they will be paid for the pizzas they have already made. The purpose of the retreat was to improve communication and working conditions.  I know this sounds crazy, really, because it is crazy. Stay tuned!

The majority opinion is supposed to rule and the minority is supposed to have an opinion, but for the good of the group, be supportive of the majority opinion.  The current government shutdown, in my opinion, is a case where the minority has chosen to ignore the millions of American voters that voted for the President with his health care plan. They have chosen to ignore the rule of the Supreme Court and to view the Affordable Act as law. Laws can be amended which is the Minority Party’s legitimate avenue to be heard. The dissenting, but powerful, minority group politicians have chosen to put the country through another manufactured crisis, just so that they can say to some folks back home that they opposed the Affordable Health Care Act and put a black mark on the first Black Presidents record.

I am hopeful that democracy will win in the end and the voters will throw out all of these self-righteous folks who think that Americans can’t see that the health care system is broken and this is a beginning fix not an end. They could be constructive by proposing reasonable alternatives called amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act and debate to convince and not just choose to eliminate the law before proposing anything.  Again, tell the hungry pizza group that there will be no pizza at all since they can’t have a vegetarian one, but offer no other food.

The Health Care System could have been fixed at any time by big medical care companies, doctors, big pharma and the like, but they choose not to fix the system for one good reason: they are getting big profits at the expense of not providing health care for Americans who need it. How many health premiums are needed to pay the golden benefits and salaries that CEOs get? How many health claims must be denied or ignored to pay for the mega million perks the leadership of these companies get?  The solution is for the minority party to be heard, legislate when appropriate, but recognize that the majority rule in a democracy means that they cannot and should not be obstructionist for the good of the country.  The minority group can play a more effective and needed role by influencing others to incorporate their ideas, they will get more support, make a difference, and they make democracy work. This what the civil rights movement of the sixties was about and the energy behind the gains of immigrants and those in the LGBT community. The people need to March on Washington for sanity in this silliness.  In this case, I bet you that there will be less Republicans winning in the next election. I believe that we are all endowed by our creator with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by having access to affordable health care!