Qualifications to Lead

Without a vision the people perish


Justice Politics

The widely read internet outlet CalMatters presents itself as a nonprofit and independent news source. Its mission, supposedly, is to explain California policy and politics.

To that end, it offers a “compare and contrast” lesson on the gubernatorial candidates in the June 7th California Primary election. Several candidates have their pictures on “front page” display. I made that cut. Maybe it was the bow tie. But only three candidates, out of a couple dozen, have their positions stated. Well, I didn’t make that cut, despite my dutifully completing the lengthy CalMatters questionnaire. Ah, well. No one ever called me a frontrunner.

But CalMatters gives lots of space, and in big print, to its own list of qualifications for the governor’s job. Speed bump! Here’s where this post gets interactive. Your turn. Which of the following make the list of qualifications for the state’s top job? Which would make your list?

1. Focus on the common good

2. Management skills

3. Compassion for the poor

4. Good with numbers

5. Consistent ethics of life

6. Analytic and decisive

7. Prudent and courageous

8. Public speaking experience

The answer, for CalMatters: the even numbered items. That’s it. And they’re great qualifications for a technocrat. But a governor needs to have the ends of governance in mind, not just the means to achieve them. Now just maybe the folks at CalMatters can’t agree on the ends of governance, so they settled for highlighting the means. But that mincing maneuver makes them narrow instrumentalists.

Yet ours is a time when, like many other times, without a vision the people perish. Unlike CalMatters, the California Catholic Conference, collaborating with the bishops of California, has a vision. The Conference looks to the common good, is prolife for the whole of life, and strives to practice the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, and courage. But even Homer nods. The Conference certainly did so. It passed on to its readers the CalMatters qualifications for ranking the candidates, along with its truncated presentation of what the candidates are saying, as if it were a handy civics lesson.

Naturally, yours unruly dropped a line to the California Catholic Conference on its failure to exercise due diligence. No answer back. And I’ll be sending both CalMatters and the Conference my account of their respective bloopers. I’ll let you know if I hear back. In the meantime, I’ll post this blog lament.


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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