One of the greatest challenges to improving the political process, and thus evaluating potential leaders, is to avoid over-relying on empty rhetoric and promises, and especially avoiding resorting to simplistic, often-inaccurate labels. Politicians often describe themselves as either conservative, liberal, moderate, progressive, Tea Party, one-percenters, etc., and these labels generally do little to help understand what they seek to accomplish or do. In our national politics, for example, the long-time model of party leaders falling into a range between 5-7% to the left, or the right of the proverbial center, has appeared to be replaced by individuals far more to left or right. This tendency has made it far more challenging to get needed achievements, because of the wide differences. For example, if someone wishes to accomplish a progressive agenda, he must be willing to do so in a pragmatic way. This means, compromising on less essential points, and seeking evolutionary step-by-step changes, rather than being perceived as being revolutionary. For this reason, and the sake of trying to truly make a long-term difference, one must begin by considering these five questions.
1. Is the approach the best one, or is it merely a rhetorical exercise? Follow the adage of Don’t sweat the petty stuff, and seek points of agreement, and the common good. While there is a somewhat fine-line, between compromise and selling out, those who focus on the bigger picture, and the goals, rather than stubbornly hanging on to certain less essential specifics, normally achieve far more, of significance.
2. Can it practically, be done? Great intents are wonderful, but rarely become meaningful, unless they lead to doing what is most necessary. If there is no chance of getting it done, the progressive policy will generally become empty rhetoric. Be 프라그마틱 플레이, and ask how you can get others to agree to focus on the common good!
3. Do you weigh the benefits versus the risks? Consider ideas on a risk/reward basis, and fully consider ramifications, both of maintaining the status quo, as well as those risks that might come into play, as a result of the action you opt for!
4. Is there both value, as well as perceived value? If you seek others to listen and pay attention, you must show how your ideas provide important benefits. You must focus not merely on the value (which is basically a financial analysis), but also demonstrate how you do so in a value and values-correlated manner, and other perceive your philosophy, ideas and approach, as being valuable.
5. Can you create a consensus? Avoid the My way or the highway approach. Rather, listen, with empathy, and let others express their ideas, questions and concerns, and fully answer these, to the satisfaction of them (not just you). Pragmatic leaders realize they must create somewhat of a consensus, if they want to accomplish what needs to be addressed!
Extremism, whether progressive, status quo, or even regressive, rarely is adopted, because it fails to develop a consensus, by focusing on the common good. Therefore, only someone who is capable of maintaining his ideals, while also being somewhat pragmatic, usually achieves the best results!