“We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity.” – Marco Rubio
As a culture, we are obsessed with popularity. In every aspect of our lives, from birth to death, popularity is the key to success. At least, it seems to be. Elementary school through high school, it is the popular kids who are afforded all the opportunity. We are wired to crave popularity. But what does it really give us? Are we any better off popular? Does it affect our character?
According to Gallup, Hillary Clinton is again the most admired woman in the world. She has topped the list for a decade. Given that, it appears as though her election to the presidency is fated. But is it really? On the list of most admired men, Ted Cruz is far, far behind the likes of Obama. He holds a measly 1%. But if we stack Cruz against Clinton, anyone reading this would say that Ted Cruz is infinitely more prepared and qualified to be the leader of the free world. I suppose that my bias is the determining factor in that race, however.
Everyone wants to be popular. But as I have aged, I have come to the realization that true leadership often relegates one to the land of single digits. Real character is not forged in the sun, but in the shadow of extraordinary trials. Clarence Thomas said:
“I don’t know one of my friends who is considered a conservative who has not had to go back and thoroughly think through everything. You do a lot of soul-searching – ’cause we are not going to win any popularity contests.“
Conservatism isn’t always popular because it isn’t always easy. Conservatism asks us to consider our weaknesses, and overcome them on our own; It doesn’t beg for help from the state. Conservatism asks us to be generous of our own volition; it doesn’t take our money in the service of an ambiguous collective good. Conservatism allows us to fail; it doesn’t force us to succeed at the cost of others. Conservatism tells us the truth; it doesn’t sugar-coat reality in favor of lies.
Hillary Clinton may be the most admired woman, according to the Gallup poll, but admiration does not equal leadership capability. In fact, in politics, it often indicates the opposite.