A NEW HERO?

In A Real Political Hero Emerges In PWC – Peter Candland, Loudoun Insider proclaims a new hero. Here is how it starts.

I haven’t posted on this issue as much as the Prince William County centric bloggers, but the bitter battle over the political slush funds known as “discretionary funds” has been interesting to watch from here in Loudoun County.  The PWC Board finally voted to end the practice but not before adding on some really stupid amendments.

I covered the “stupid amendments” in POLITICAL POSITIONING PLUS REVENGE? Apparently, Candland has decided to make it known what he thinks of the amendments. Thus, Candland has become Loudoun Insider’s kind of politican, and the feuding continues.

While I was slightly amused by the whole mess, I had hoped the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS) would notice the ridiculousness of the situation. Such feuding makes none of them look good. What almost all of us want (including the BOCS) is a county government that does a good job and does it without spending too much money. Fingerpointing and backbiting just creates a bad example for the kiddies.

What can I suggest? Today we hold up Benjamin Franklin as the model of a wise statesman. Franklin strove for compromise, even to the point of giving others the credit.

Walter Isaacson, in Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, notes, “Compromisers may not make great heroes, but they do make democracies.” His point was that the strength of a country–or, I would argue, an organization–is not just derived from singleness of purpose. It is derived from the recognition that the sum is greater than the parts and that compromise is often a necessary ingredient in achieving success.

During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the delegates of the large and small states were split over the notion of proportional representation. It was Franklin who helped pass what became known as the “Connecticut Compromise” (it accommodated the more populous states by mandating that the seats of the House of Representatives be determined according to population, while protecting the smaller states by giving each two senators). He did so with a simple analogy that broke the tension. “When a broad table is made and the planks do not fit, the artist takes a little from both and makes a good point,” Franklin said. “In like manner here, both sides must part with some of their demands.” The compromise was accepted and the convention–and the young nation–were held together. Franklin also once said that sometimes “one is obliged to give up some smaller points in order to obtain greater.”

The subtle, behind-the-scenes style of the compromise reflects another hallmark of his leadership: his humility. From his anonymous authorship of Poor Richard’s Almanac and his quiet work in negotiating an alliance with France to his little efforts in crafting the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (Franklin was responsible for suggesting the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident” to Thomas Jefferson), Ben Franklin was always willing to give others credit in order to achieve success.

Even after his fame as a scientist, writer, and diplomat became widespread; Franklin repeatedly refused to trade in on it. In fact, Franklin recognized that often the best way to get someone to accept an idea was to make them believe it was their idea. To this end, he often employed the Socratic method. He never belittled or degraded an opponent’s views; rather he would ask questions until they came around to seeing issues from his point of view. (from here)

By the end of end of his life, it could be rightfully said of Franklin that no other individual was more involved in the founding of our nation.

Ben stands alone as the only person to have signed all four of the documents which helped to create the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778), the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1782), and the Constitution (1787). He actually helped to write parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. No other individual was more involved in the birth of our nation. (from here)

And what was the key to Franklin’s success? Perhaps it was humility. However, I suspect Franklin was also a very disciplined man. It usually takes more discipline than any of us have to ask the right questions and then to shut up and let somebody else speak. That takes a skilled statesman, and that he was.

How did Franklin become a skilled statesman? We can learn in his own words. See BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ON PRIDE AND HUMILITY.

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