Graybrook Institute




"A leader is one who influences a specific group of people to move in a God-given direction." — J. Robert Clinton

"A low morality will not sustain leadership long, its influence quickly vanishes, it cannot produce its own succession." —
Chester Irving Barnard

"You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." — Ken Kesey

"I'd say one of the great lessons I've learned over the past couple of decades, from a management perspective, is that really when you come down to it, it really is all about people and all about leadership." — Steve Case

On Leadership and De-centralization

By Garry J. Moes


There is, we say thankfully, a renewed debate in the American body politic over the tensions between an over-reaching federal government and the rights of the various sovereign states. Important as this debate is and always has been in this federal nation, the hopes of a return to proper balance are growing increasingly dim.

IN OUR PRESENT MORAL AND POLITICAL CONDITION, if the entire national government were abolished, and every state were an autonomous jurisdiction, individual liberty would still be in great jeopardy in this land.

If every state government were abolished, and every county were autonomous, individual liberty would still be in jeopardy. To be sure, personal options would be greater if one were to have the ability to move about and find a place among a myriad of available options more favorable to liberty. But I have seen and dealt with unreasonable and stifling obstacles to personal and property rights even from local governments. In some cases, they are the most ignorant and burdensome of all. Local officials can be as bureaucratic, power hungry and fiercely wrong as officials at any other level. Local school boards, for example, are doing outrageous things all up and down the land.

Again, government close to home has the potential for greater influence from the home front. My experience as a political analyst in a small-population state like Montana, for example, was that ordinary folks have a more cogent and immediate influence on their leaders than they do in a massive, unwieldy large-population state like California.

That being said, the critical issue at this juncture may not be de-centralization or centralization. Neither will be the solution until a more fundamental issue is addressed. What is really needed everywhere at this crossroads is a wholesale reorientation of the hearts and minds of the people concerning the role of government and a renewed understanding of liberty among the American people all across the land. And this may come, by the grace of God, through a rebirth of wise and productive LEADERSHIP.

The presidency is and always has been the greatest platform for wholesale leadership in this country, for good or ill. Great national leaders, like Washington and Reagan, can inspire a commitment to liberty and can shepherd its implementation using a bottom-up model whose foundation is in the hearts and minds of their countrymen. Famously it was said: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ... that this nation, under God, shall have a NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The presidency can also become the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the dictator Barack Obama demonstrated so frighteningly. The genius of our system, as designed, is that the tools for counterbalancing this totalitarian tendency are available, if only wise and moral leaders will have the courage to use them and a newly wise and moral electorate will delegate their sovereign powers to such servant leaders.

I have long feared that, owing to several generations of indoctrination to the contrary by our dominant educational system, the majority of the electorate is too ignorant of the exceptional philosophy of freedom promulgated by our Founders, too lobotomized by a corrupted culture, and too divorced from the source of Moral Law to right our sinking ship of state. Still, I say again, inspiring and role-modeling leadership has the potential to begin to put us rightside-up again. There is a place for that kind of centralized leadership.

May God be merciful and gracious to raise up such men and women in such a time as this.

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