The Statesman Creates Statesmanlike Behaviors in Those around Them, Including Inducing Members of the Opposition to Participate in the Vision


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The Statesman faces a dilemma while operating within democratic governance. The Statesman cannot single-handedly enact legislation to support his/her vision without the help of those who are largely Politicians. Hence, one of the greatest challenges the Statesman faces is influencing those who are Politicians to support his/her vision. We have already argued that the Statesman is not yet the norm. Rather, the self-interested Politician is. In this current era of governance, we need significant numbers to support the vision of the Statesman. Hence, the Statesman will not succeed unless he/she can influence Politicians to achieve a common vision. In effect, our goal must be to motivate those who are naturally Politicians to become statesmanlike.

We have an effective example in George Catlett Marshall who, as a Statesman, was more concerned with doing good, using the authority at his disposal rather than aspiring to a higher position. His great genius was the way he brought out the best in those who governed with him. Marshall’s efforts to achieve what became called the Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II provide a beautiful example of this trait of the Statesman: the capacity to make his vision contagious and draw others into it, including those from the opposition. Some of those Marshall drew into his effort and whom he motivated to statesmanlike behavior were: Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Will Clayton, Richard Bissell, Paul Hoffman, W. Averell Harriman, Ernest Bevin, Jean Monet, Robert Schuman. As an example, Senator Vandenberg was the key member of the U.S. Senate controlled by the opposition party, whose support he needed to procure the necessary Government funding. The partnership between these two leaders, whose party affiliations opposed each other, is a beautiful example of rising above party for the good of the people. Marshall was apparently able to appeal to the humanity, or the heart, in those whose cooperation he needed.

As an aside, bipartisanship should not be surprising. The goals of the Statesman do not belong to a particular party but rather belong to the well-being of humanity. As such, regardless of party and political differences, all should be able to support them. Nevertheless, the Statesman must convince those preoccupied with party to share the same human goals.

A corollary of this is that the Statesman has a different attitude toward the opposition than the Politician does. I believe that one of the most important relationships in the life of the Statesman is with those in the opposition. 1 They will help us to see potential blind spots. One official shared with me that his father was the Leader of the Opposition in the early days after independence of his nation. In Parliament, his father was sharply critical of the Prime Minister. However, every time his father visited the village, he brought back bushels of produce that he then took to the residence of the Prime Minister. Privately, they were close friends. I am convinced that those in the opposition should be among our closest friends. We need their perspectives.

What are options available to the Statesman to motivate those around him/her to statesmanlike behavior? We have already argued that the most effective way to operate as a Statesman is to govern under the guidance of our Creator. If we could facilitate those in the governing class gaining this perspective, it could potentially be the most effective method of all. Thus, it could also contribute to ensuring continuing statesmanlike behavior after us. An example is the effort by one 21st Century Prime Minister who challenged those serving in Government with him, beginning with his own testimony of the need for God’s help:

I needed assistance, direction and strength that even my family, friends and colleagues could not give. I realised that the support I was looking for could only come from God. To that point, my relationship with my Maker was something I didn’t think much about. I took it for granted. I suppose I was one of those lukewarm Christians, who coasted along in the hope that if I generally behaved myself and said my prayers I would get to Heaven. That was not enough to sustain me in my new job as Prime Minister. Increasingly, I found myself turning to God. I submitted myself in total surrender and obedience to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. As I seek knowledge and wisdom through constant prayer and from daily readings of God’s Holy Word, I opened my heart to the Holy Spirit to counsel me and guide me. Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you that this truly is the Way; for it is God Himself who is the real leader of a nation. And it is only in Him and from Him that we can be blessed as individuals, as communities, as organizations and as a country.

Here is a leader of Government challenging those serving in Government to submit to the guidance which God provides. If we could motivate those who serve with us to view themselves as God’s instruments on behalf of the people and to learn to depend upon His guidance, I am confident we would find ourselves working more harmoniously. This strikes me as being the ultimate in Statesmen challenging the teachable to become Statesmen.

Another long-range approach would be challenging the Religious Institution, e.g. the Church, to fulfill its God-given responsibility as “the pillar and foundation of the truth” 2 from God our Creator to every segment of His creation, including Government. As a part of the Church myself, I quickly acknowledge that we in the Church have not fulfilled our responsibility in this area. I would support you in galvanizing the Church to fulfill this responsibility.

1. Gary I. Allen, “Relationships Essential for Maximizing the Effectiveness of the Head of Government and His Cabinet”, in Leadership for Nation Building, 3rd ed. (2010), pp. 107-114.
2. Bible, 1 Timothy 3:15.