There Can Be Only One
The truth is, we should have been informed. The children of America should be taught this at a very early age: in order to be in a position of leadership, you must already be in that position. In order to be good at something, you have to have proven, over a period of 10 years or more … that you are good at it. And once you have proven that, not only is it unlikely that anyone could do it better, but to allow someone else to do it at all would be irresponsible to the community.
Does the reader recall this lesson in school? Or did we learn something else? From what this author recalls, the lesson is a little different: that there are certain values, skills and bodies of knowledge that we can learn which prepare us for our next role. That we can take things learned from our past experiences, study the issues and material which apply to our next one, and put our values and principles to work with the help and support of those who may have more knowledge than us on particular issues. From everything I know of leadership, that is what it entails.
Apparently, though, our current chairman of the Board of Supervisors got that other lesson. He has come to the conclusion that because of his tenure as chairman of the board that it is simply not possible for anyone else without his requisite experience to be as capable of it. Oh sure…he would allow a few key people with the experience (a minimum of one term under his wise and careful tutelage) to vie for the spot, but nobody else need apply.
And we certainly can’t risk it. If someone without at least a dozen years under one’s belt – throwing one’s weight around Loudoun County, burying bodies (figuratively, of course) so that the key knowledge of where they are buried preserves its value – were to take the reigns of power that is the chair of the Loudoun County Board, then there is little doubt that the county could indeed descend into a level of chaos that would make the streets of Baltimore blush.
It seems we need to ask ourselves a few questions: First, how much power and influence DOES the chairman of the Board of Supervisors have? Is Mr. York’s gavel actually a small Mjolnir?
Is it literally, physically impossible for someone else to lift it? That would indeed be cause for concern. If so, where does that power come from? Someone, some king of the gods, must be the source of that awe-inspiring power.
Perhaps, though, the chairman has a point. Maybe the position is indeed too powerful. In other words, let’s take it to the extreme: If we were to put my 9-year-old son in the chairman spot, for four years (a bright boy, but not prepared for the duties as chairman, yet) how bad would the county get? Would mayhem and madness fall upon the land? Or would the other board members, the county administrator and the thousands of employees, commissioners and other volunteers involved in the running of Loudoun County take up enough of the slack?
Seriously, if the risk is this great, should we consider having elections for chairman every two years instead of every four? He’s either right or he’s not. Either NOBODY is prepared enough for the burden, or anyone with a requisite education who can read an agenda and bang a gavel can hold it together and not do too much damage.
Though the real poisoned fruit of this way of thinking is something else altogether. It has less to do with power, the wielding of it, and the risk of chaos from the wrong person trying to lift that hammer (and after a time, graciously hanging it on a coat rack). It actually simply shows a complete disregard for any query into the rightness or wrongness of particular decisions that are made while wielding said gavel. There is scant attention paid in this vein to why elected officials make certain decisions, what principles they hold dear, what they believe in. The truth is: if more attention was paid to WHY we do things; why we approve this budget or that one; refuse to accept this development or that one; support this or that law or oppose it; then it is likely that we could conjure up the imagination that others may be able to perform the task adequately, as long as they express an understanding of those same values, and can show an ability to deliberate and make rational decisions in general.
It is evident, now, that this is not the point of view of our current chairman. Either that makes him indispensable, god-like, possessing eidetic memory accompanied with the wisdom of Solomon, which means also that our structure of government needs rethinking; or, what is decidedly more likely, that he simply has been in his position for too long, has forgotten any shred of ideal or principle or fundamental value of governance that can be handed down to another along with the hammer – I mean gavel.
(This article was originally posted in the Loudoun Times Mirror.)