Monday, November 8, 2010

Cogito ergo sum

This past week's election cycle has brought an inordinate amount of commentary, not to mention controversy, and indeed the worst appears yet to come, as one party attempts to functionally reverse the direction in which the other had been taking the country. This pattern is cyclical, and in another couple years, the presidential elections will happen, and there will be a hotly contested battle which I predict, at this early stage, will be a referendum on the current referendum, which was never really a referendum to begin with for the simple fact that noone was call to account for anything, and the - as they've been termed in publications farther out along the political spectrum - 'The Red Scare' was not so scary after all. Indeed, I asked this on my Facebook page the following day: given the fact that there were so many media outlets cheering, rooting, egging on those who would undo all of the good that our president has done over the course of his current mandate, that when the chips fell, and the Blue team still held the Senate, and the Executive branch, and the majority in the House was only by 60 seats (near enough so that a few good compromises could create enough influence to stem the tide) it is to wonder the following (and New Yorkers always get blamed for asking the hard questions,): when 2012 comes around, will there then be references to a vast 'conservative media' conspiracy?

Of course, my mother would say, 'out of the mouths of babes', for, as luck would have it, there was the entire Keith Olberman controversy which blew up Friday morning following election night, and continued through the weekend, with MSNBC eventually recanting their suspension of the anchor, though not before suffering umbrage and the hyper-intellectualized deprecation at the gilded tongue of Rachel Maddow. Her comparison at the very least begs for the practices of her competitors to be looked into, if not fully investigated.

But this continues to bring up the critical teaching point, at least for me, of Collins' Level 5 leadership, which is a persistent theme throughout the Public/Private leadership literature. All of the people who just managed to garner positions in Congress spend the majority of their soundbite time trumpeting their cause to unseat President Obama, to repeal health care, to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, to stand in the face of power and shout defiantly 'NO!' These are the same party constituents that orate fervently claiming to be the ones in favor of 'opportunity.' Harvard Business Review has a different perspective on the matter, in an article entitled 'Is what's good for Corporate America still good for America?' The answer, I will allow you to discern for yourself, but the evidence is compelling. Secondly, in a New York Times Op-Ed piece published today, Nicholas Kristof uses a term that brought to mind terrifying images of inhuman labor conditions, should wrenching poverty, greed, pestilence, and eventually revolution. The difficulty in his utilization, however, is the fact that he makes the claim about the US, which increases the potency of the comparison, but perhaps the time has come to make such a comparison, as borne out in Kristof's column 'Our Banana Republic.' For those of us in the Spanish teaching profession, who have made (or previously had made) a career of learning and researching these exact historical details, and carry around montages of photos, paintings, poetry, and period style films in our memories, we warned of the potential for similar consequences in our classes. We spent inordinate amounts of time preparing lessons, and explaining the hard concepts, and the literature, as demonstrated in La United Fruit Company by Pablo Neruda. I would suggest everyone read it and make a distinct comparison between the current (as of 2010) top 1% of Americans absorbing 24% of the GDP, and the situations in the poem.

There has been, of late, -and perhaps I've only noticed it in the New York Times because I only have time in a day to look through perhaps two publications with the flurry of activity that's going on throughout the program and my mentorship,- a renewed focus on the Civil War era. I imagine that is not without good reason. Today on a day when the Commander-in-Chief finds himself beset on all sides by hysterias both manufactured and real, one other such article surfaced in the Times, and its parity with the current duo-chromatic myopia, entitled 'Lincoln wins, now what?' What the historians seem to be telling us is the following: be conscious of your history, lest you be doomed to repeat it. Though, given my recent visit to the Brookings Institute, and seeing insights into the future of Education policy for the years to come, I must ponder the nation's capacity to successfully perform that task.

Finally, in order to bring this full circle, the following blitzed across my e-mail box Wednesday night, after a long day in the office, and an even longer and more involved online session with professors, from an individual in a similar position to mine, which in reality was the purpose for returning to the question of Level 5 leadership:

"Before we end the night and since I deal with this in this group all the time, I have to take the victories I get and rejoice when I can. So I say this with love and respect to all my Dem friends here, which is almost all of you here, NA NA NA NA EH EH EH GOOD BYE (Pelosi) !!!!!!


If this is the character of the supporters of the team opposing Pelosi, and the President, does that truly represent the type of leadership we need in a climate that, above all else, requires maturity, a willingness to reach out, create coalitions, search for best solutions, and best practices, and continue the progress that's been made?