Evening Edition - July 3

July 3, 2020 |

LEADERSHIP 101

Endless effort and spin have gone into trying to explain why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 without ever considering that her own baggage, views, and personality had anything to do with it. As I tried to explain long before the election in my book, “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” the elites of politics, academia, and the media had sealed themselves into such an airtight echo chamber, they had no idea what the mysterious natives of that vast “flyover country” that they looked down on, literally and figuratively, were thinking.

What they were thinking was that they were fed up to the gills with a double standard that gave the politically-connected a pass for things that would land them under the jail. There were sick of being ignored and insulted for voicing legitimate complaints about how their lives were being adversely affected by leftist policies, disregard for the Constitution, and selective enforcement of laws. They were tired of being called racists or xenophobes or immigrant-haters if they thought the welfare of suffering Americans, such as homeless veterans or people put out of work by illegal immigrant labor, should take priority over solving the problems of everyone else in the world.

And on a visceral level, they were tired of the grating combination of ignorance and arrogance (a trait we’ve recently seen turned up to 11). It’s that condescending attitude of elitists (politicians, Hollywood stars, news media figures, Silicon Valley tech/social media denizens) who are convinced they are the smartest people in the room – so smart, in fact, that their ideas are the only ones that should be allowed to be expressed -- even though the results of their ideas throughout history prove that they don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about. They think they know how to run the entire planet, but have fewer practical skills than the average apprentice plumber. The poster boy for this was New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, whose brief, doomed presidential bid was exemplified by his clueless claim that all it takes to be a farmer is to throw some seeds in the dirt, add water, and “up comes the corn.” Down went DeBlasio, and for good reason.

During the Obama years, a lot of young savants with massive egos sailed triumphantly into Washington only to go slinking back to academia after seeing their precious theories shatter on the rocks of reality. Yet since then, they’ve learned nothing and become even more cocksure of themselves and the inevitability of their failed socialist ideas. So what can all those Ivy League hothouse flowers learn about problem-solving from a lowly former Arkansas governor and business owner?

Well, the most important tip I could offer is this: Very big problems are usually not solved with very big solutions. A 2000-page bill or a massive ten-year “plan” like the Green New Deal only creates a whole new set of problems. If you want to turn a problem into a catastrophe, the recipe is simple: just add lots and lots of federal bureaucrats and taxpayer money.

When you have a big problem, Step #1 is to break it down into little problems. Then put someone in charge of each problem who actually knows how to solve it. It takes an experienced, executive decision-maker just to decide which decisions to make and which ones can be safely left to someone else. (This is something that doesn’t require political experience; anyone who’s ever run a successful business knows it instinctively.)

Next comes the hardest part: prioritizing. We’ve all seen executives who are constantly bustling and shouting. They look busy – some people are even impressed by their constant bustling -- but they never really get anything done. That’s because they’re trying to do everything at once, instead of focusing on issues in their order of importance.

I’ll let you in on another secret: the importance of an issue is not determined by how important the people closest to it think it is. You might have to disappoint or even anger people by telling them their pet issue isn’t your top priority. Sorry, that’s part of the job.

I once had a professor of religion who said one of the wisest things I ever heard about management: “Don’t use all your water to put out too small a fire.” If you use up all your resources and credibility overreacting to a small crisis, then what do you do when a big crisis comes along and your fire extinguisher is empty? (We’re seeing this a lot in the media these days when every little controversy becomes a hair-on-fire CRISIS, and every piece of fake news becomes a “BOMBSHELL SCANDAL,” and then gets dropped the second the next one comes along. All this has accomplished is to erode their own credibility.)

Another essential skill is choosing the right employees. If you have important jobs to fill, find people who’ve mastered every aspect of their current job and are happy there, but ready to move up. Someone who wants a promotion because he’s not comfortable where he is won’t be any more comfortable higher up.

You also don’t need an idealistic dreamer who leaps in from academia to reinvent the wheel. Advanced degrees and high grades in school are admirable, but often, real-world experience and common sense are far more valuable. When you need to put out a fire, you call a firefighter, not a Ph.D. in combustion theory. When you’re dealing with violent rioters, you need cops, not sociology majors. And as we’ve learned from the FBI and the Mueller team, you don’t put people in charge who let partisan zeal prejudice the way they do their jobs or deal with the public.

That’s what you should learn on day one of “Leadership 101.” So how come so many of our leaders, and those jockeying to become our leaders, still haven’t learned it?

THE TYPE OF LEADERS WE NEED

We all knew a kid in school who just had to run everything. Remember the classmate who insisted on picking the games you’d all play at recess, where you’d go after school, even who was “in” or “out” of your group? In high school, that kid had a compulsive need to be the leader of every student organization. You just wanted to say, “Hey! You’re not the boss of me!” Whatever happened to those kids? I wouldn’t be surprised if most ended up in government. We certainly have no shortage of people there who think they know how to live your life and spend your paycheck better than you do.

I’m convinced the world is divided into people who just want to live their own lives and those who, for some reason, have an uncontrollable urge to tell everyone else how to live. Unfortunately, to that latter group, the government seems like the ideal place to work, and at the moment, they are getting 99.9% of all the attention from the media. As more of them gravitated toward government, Congress abdicated much of its legislating authority to unelected bureaucrats. Their bureaus grew like kudzu, and so did their regulations with the force of law (but no input from the people.) Then one day, we looked up and discovered we had a crushing national debt and were paying huge salaries to an army of people who enforce how big your soda should be and who couldn’t be fired and who is allowed to come into your daughter’s locker room. That’s when sane people realized that government is the LAST place these out-of-control control freaks needed to be.

The temptation for government to overreach is hardly new. In fact, it stretches back to the beginning of recorded history, and I bet even earlier than that. There’s a story in the ninth chapter of the book of Judges in the Old Testament about Gideon’s son Abimelech, who craved leadership and stature - not to serve the people but to control them and make them serve him. He said, “Give me dominion over your lives, and I will simplify your existence.” Wow, does that sound familiar? It’s basically the entire 2020 Democratic platform. Our government has taken us pretty far down that same road, but does your life seem any simpler -- or just a lot less free?

Anyway, back to Abimelech. He had a very smart younger brother, Jotham, who came up with a clever tale about three trees: an olive tree, a fig tree, and a vine tree. All three were fine trees that produced lots of fruit. All were offered the exalted position of “King Of All Trees,” but all three turned it down. The plant that wanted to be “King Of All Trees” was the bramble bush, a weak plant that produces no fruit at all. Jotham’s point was that only the weak and nonproductive have the desire to rule everyone else. Does that lesson not resonate like a gong right now?

When anyone aspires to a position of power, take a long, hard look. If that person seemingly crawled out of the cradle with an ambition to be President, then beware! Anytime someone talks about “running the country,” alarm bells should sound. No one – not the President, not Congress, no one person – “runs the country” or should aspire to. That’s why the Founders took such pains to divide and limit federal power, and why we need to reinstate those limits that have been blurred in recent years, whether by Presidents ruling via executive order or out-of-control judges legislating from the bench or unelected bureaucrats abusing their power to try to influence the results of elections. If we allow any one person or entity to ignore those limits and assume the power to run everything, we won’t be able to stop them when they run America into the ground.

We should pick leaders who resemble the trees in the Bible story that don’t need or crave power but that have shown they bear good fruit. As it is said, by their fruits ye shall know them. The government has more than enough nuts already.

THE TAIL IS WAGGING THE DOG

When a lie gets repeated so often that everyone thinks it’s true, it’s called “conventional wisdom” – maybe because it happens so often at political conventions. These days, conventional wisdom is that Americans are clamoring for European-style, cradle-to-grave Socialism Lite. Don’t buy it.

Throughout the Bush-Obama era, the media kept repeating “failed conservative policies” until even a lot of so-called conservatives believed it. Well, what a difference a few years make. We tried leftist policies. They resulted in a sluggish economy, depressed job growth, rising income inequality, reduced wealth and opportunities for minorities, rising class and racial divisions, and abroad, a decline in US prestige and leadership and the advancement and emboldening of our enemies, including a terrorist “JV team” metastasizing into a worldwide threat.

Polls began to show that most Americans wanted the government to do less and spend less. In France, where an actual Socialist was elected President, his huge tax hikes crashed the economy and made socialism as popular with the French as cheese in a can. The media were shocked when voters turned right in the next election. They should’ve known that nothing turns people off of socialism like actually experiencing it. (See “Venezuela.”) The elites responded by doubling down on the arrogance, condescension and name-calling of those who dared to challenge their divine right to rule. The people were forced to make their point even more clearly by shutting down large sections of the country with massive protests and demanding their culture and secure national borders back.

It is a shame that we have to keep relearning the hard way that top-down, big-government solutions and leftist utopian fantasies don’t work in reality. Young people can almost be excused for believing in socialism for the same reason they believe in the Tooth Fairy: they are empty vessels who get filled with whatever adults pour into them. We’ve been dangerously remiss in allowing leftists to take over our schools and fill those precious vessels with mental pollution.

But Republicans who promised small government and fiscal responsibility should know better. Instead, too many let deficits skyrocket, stuffed budgets with pork, and became cheerleaders for big government and disdainful toward the very Americans who put them in office. These so-called “conservatives” slammed me in 2007 for not being a “real conservative” because I pointed out problems in the economy that were hurting working people and criticized the lack of oversight of Wall Street’s excesses. Two years later, they wanted to spend $700 billion of our grandkids’ money to save Wall Street from its excesses. They abandoned the government’s rightful role as a tough-but-impartial referee and wanted to use its power to pick winners and losers in the market. Is that “real conservatism?”

The truth is that voters didn’t turn their backs on conservatism, Republican politicians did. Democrats didn’t sweep to power in 2008 by claiming to be government-bloating tax-and-spenders, but by swearing they’d changed and were now fiscally responsible. Of course, once they gave Obama, Pelosi, and Reid unlimited power, voters quickly realized their terrible mistake and gave the House back to the GOP in the next election. But too many Republicans had already squandered their credibility, so when Democrats ballooned the deficit, they could deflect criticism by simply pointing at their opponents’ own record.

From Jefferson’s belief that the government closest to the people governs best to Reagan’s faith in free markets, from low taxes to letting markets instead of government make business decisions, conservative ideas work whenever they’re tried. Before China kneecapped our economy by allowing a pandemic to spread worldwide, we were all enjoying the fruits of Trump’s agenda, which mostly consisted of doing the opposite of whatever Obama did.

Obama mocked Trump for saying we could bring back manufacturing jobs and strong GDP growth, saying that Trump didn’t have a “magic wand.” But the only magic needed was a simple disappearing act: getting government out of the way! Before the pandemic, we had record low unemployment in every demographic, very strong job creation, and regularly set new stock market records. And despite the gloom and doomers claiming that the pandemic would launch us into a new Depression that would last years, the economy began rebounding as soon as the heavy foot of government started being lifted and people were allowed to go back to work.

I expected this because the underlying economy was and is very strong. It took a massive effort and unjustified draconian lockdowns mostly in blue states to throttle it and keep it from roaring back. This is why I can’t quite believe polls showing that Americans are eager to replace Trump with Joe Biden, the “Walking Dead” remnant of the slow-growth Obama years, who has surrounded himself with people who can’t wait to bloat government, raise taxes, spend like drunken sailors, regulate everything that moves, and turn the whole country into a coast-to-coast version of one of the failing cities they’ve run for decades.

Then again, you never know: New Yorkers lived through the nightmare of the Dinkins years, elected Rudy Giuliani, who miraculously saved the city (ignoring Democrats who routinely called him a Nazi and a fascist) and Bloomberg, who continued Rudy’s policies and kept it going – then for some unfathomable reason, decided they were tired of a well-run, successful city that wasn’t knee-deep in garbage, plagued with crime and stinking of urine. So they elected Dinkins’ protégé, Bill DeBlasio. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it, but unfortunately, they keep voting to force everyone else to repeat the same mistakes with them.

Gandhi once said, "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today." I think if all politicians really followed the principles they espouse to get elected, all of America would be conservative today. Much of it already is. Look at the 2016 county-by-county voting map (a sea of red dotted by small islands of blue, with people streaming from the blue to red areas in U-Hauls every day.) Even among Democratic Party voters, only 19% identify themselves as “very liberal.” Our biggest problem isn’t that most Americans “are socialists now.” It’s that party leaders and the media are wildly out of touch with most Americans, and they are the ones with the 24-hour PR apparatus known as the news media and social media. It amplifies the liberal side and suppresses the conservative side so much that not only is the tail wagging the dog, but it’s like a Chihuahua’s tail wagging a St. Bernard.

What Americans need is fewer politicians who think they can tell us what to do and more who actually do what we sent them to Washington to do once they arrive there.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

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Comments 1-25 of 72

  • Carl "T" Smith

    07/07/2020 11:41 PM

    Absolutely GREAT read and I'm in the process of passing on! One comment about the elections that I might mention is BECAUSE the Media is NOW in CONTROL and having lost all credibility they still have half the nation in their back pocket believing EVERTHING they say--Remember Joseph Goebbels mantra--TELL A BIG ENOUGH LIE OFTEN ENOUGH AND IT BECOMES TRUTH --EVEN TO THE TELLER--- I have a couple of people that pass on the Lie that "TRUMP tells 10,000 lies a Day" I got chastised for mentioning that GROSS Exaggerations are not exactly Lies but Close Cousins. As usual some people just cannot accept the idea that their LIBERAL Ideas could possibly be Wrong. I didn't attempt to explain the difference between Liberal and Leftist.

  • Larry Flynn

    07/06/2020 01:49 PM

    Good article Governor, but feel obliged to point out that it was Bloomberg, not DiBlasio who said all you needed to do was throw seed into dirt and water it and you'd be a farmer

  • Janis Hook

    07/06/2020 10:11 AM

    I find myself agreeing with every word you print. My true feeling is you are preaching to the choir. I wish my cousin and friends would read what you write. Not going to happen because they are one of many sheep. They will vote for the worst candidate ever just so they did not vote for Trump.

  • Jerry Kelley

    07/05/2020 07:34 PM

    Gov. Huckabee,
    I enjoy all of your newsletters, but especially the article “Leadership 101! I was in a successful, family business for 42 years. I certainly agree with all your statements. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed and for being a Christian, conservative leader!!

  • Judi Fey

    07/05/2020 02:48 PM

    We watched the annual PBS July 4th program, as usual. My husband and I got up and took breaks. It was so one-sided. Many of the performers wore black! The message was very clear. What a disappointment, very few patriotic songs, not upbeat. The videography of the fireworks was abysmal - floating in and out so you couldn't see half of them. Ugh.

  • Richard Boultinghouse

    07/05/2020 01:16 AM

    Great piece Gov. Keep pouring it on.

  • Kathy Wingate

    07/04/2020 11:20 PM

    What an excellent report! You are 100% on it, Governor. I wish I could send this to my disillusioned younger cousins, the I was threatened with being blocked, if I didn't stop trying to change their minds. I'm afraid there are so many people who only watch MSM, they are totally bamboozled...These are very intelligent people, but not Christian, but even some of my Christian friends are just as bamboozled, simply from only watching Main Stream Media. After the great July 4th program put on by the White House, I turned to CNN just to see what they were doing to celebrate....surprise! They were doing an expose' on Trump's dishonest accusations against the Dem's investigation into his Russia collusion,Bill Barr's catering to Trump's demands, and twisting everything to appear to make Trump look like HE's the dishonest one. People watching this garbage are so disillusioned, it's hard to see how they will ever see the truth, it just seems to be so out of focus for them...They can't see what is in plain sight. The psychological game of the Dems is working for many, and it's scary...I think our only hope is in God, and Believers must pray non-stop until this election is over...He protected us in 2016, we should depend on Him to protect us again this election cycle...Dear God, Please help our Country!!

  • Nan Isaacson

    07/04/2020 10:09 PM

    Very good article. These principles must be taught in public schools.

  • marilyn tuley

    07/04/2020 06:24 PM

    I saw the July 3 show on TBN which was excellent! How can I see a youtube of David Barton's talk he did on the program...I want to see it again and get the info. again and also to send it to my family. Thanks so much for your kind help!

  • Phillip Brock

    07/04/2020 06:08 PM

    Governor,
    You are spot on with the assessment of why the average American is fed up with the Republican Party. They promise to hold the line on spending during campaign season and then open the floodgates with their appeasement of the opposition party. My frustration has led me to hold the R's in more disdain, because the Dems don't try to hide their leftist wishlist.

    If Republicans had any backbones, then most Americans would give them overwhelmingly support. We simply want limited government, particularly at the federal level; but this also applies to the states as well. As you so eloquently put it, government needs to get the neck out of the way!

    Always enjoy your newsletters. They are insightful and informative.

    Phillip Brock

  • Joyce Birch

    07/04/2020 05:01 PM

    Great read about leadership! Again, I read that a few more Republicans & Democrats want to take away Columbus Day & switch it with Juneteenth. They claim there are enough Federal Holidays. What about how much time Congress & the Senate are on vacation on the taxpayer's dime? How long is the Supreme Court is closed (4 months)? They don't have to make this another Federal Holiday. I'm not Jewish, but those who are, celebrate their holiday. Juneteenth should be an optional holiday, those who want to celebrate it, if working, then take it as a vacation day, or if allowed a personal day according to the employers. This is how the company I would for who had many Jewish employees. I said this before, you start with one holiday, then they'll attack another one. This government is bowing to the left & they're looking for VOTES. If you have another suggestion, I would love to hear from you this topic. I hope some some of your readers have an opinion. May be I'm only one voice, but at least I'm using my God given right to speak out.

  • Robert Ganz

    07/04/2020 04:51 PM

    "The poster boy for this was New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, whose brief, doomed presidential bid was exemplified by his clueless claim that all it takes to be a farmer is to throw some seeds in the dirt, add water, and “up comes the corn.” Down went DeBlasio, and for good reason."

    I hate to correct you, Mike, but I believe it was Mike Bloomberg who said that during his brief run for President. Still, down he went.

  • Kathryn Green

    07/04/2020 02:56 PM

    I'm not sure but, wasn't it Bloomberg, no de Blasio, who said that all it takes to be a farmer is to throw some seeds in the dirt, add water, and “up comes the corn.” I only question this because, I would never have listened to de Blasio on a campaign trail. I would rather pull out my fingernails. Although, I spot-watched Bloomberg 'cause I wanted to see what the little sneak was up to.

  • Vernon Freeck

    07/04/2020 02:36 PM

    Thank you one your best yet. I do hope that many people will read

  • Ruth Heinz

    07/04/2020 02:19 PM

    Mike, may I copy this and post it on my FB page?

  • Floyd A Unger

    07/04/2020 01:42 PM

    Absolutely excellent

  • Walter Kerr

    07/04/2020 12:23 PM

    Thanks for your common sense and insight as to what is happening to our country.

  • Mrs. Geraldine F Habitz

    07/04/2020 11:25 AM

    I, especially, liked today's message and read it over three times, I'll admit because I don't know what to do and your words are concise, true and lifting. I know what I think but its hard for me to put so much disappointment and anger into words that others can understand. I get very frustrated and, sometimes, discouraged watching this nation ---- my nation, during the terrible times of WWII, fighting so hard in every corner of the world and sacrificing itself for the sake of freedom for, not just ourselves, but for others across the ocean ---- being trashed and despised. But for us, Europe would be a Fourth Reich and England would be a bombed out shell. I save most of your messages but this one spoke volumes for me. I thank you for my daily "lift" ---- your strength, simply, comes from the heart of our Lord....you are so blessed. Thank you.

  • Jack Allenberg

    07/04/2020 11:20 AM

    Mike;
    Somehow, this evening edition should be read by everyone. How can we make that happen. I forward them to my friends, but I"m preaching to the choir. Are you familiar with The Hillsdale College. Their Imprimis letter reaches a lot of people. Maybe they would publish this edition.
    You remind me of John the baptist.
    Keep up the good work

    Jack Allenberg

  • Mary Lawless

    07/04/2020 10:31 AM

    Thank you Mr. HUCKABEE. I always enjoy your email that bring me the real story and with so much humor. You tell it like it is. May God richly bless you.

  • Nancy Pinchoff

    07/04/2020 09:45 AM

    I wish every American would read your essay today......it is so “just so good”!

  • Bruce Bailey

    07/04/2020 09:27 AM

    you are right on target, I just hope and pray that enough conservatives will overpower the big money liberals that speak socialism

  • Roger Joubert

    07/04/2020 08:05 AM

    Great class in leadership. Sadly our president will not be missed even when he's gone from Washington. The Dems and the press will have to find a new face to blame for all the trouble they've caused. This might cause more hysteria than the covid-19 epidemic.

  • Sheldon Larsen

    07/04/2020 07:58 AM

    Love your style and your piece Leadership 101. I’ve been working in manufacturing for over 40 years, although multiple types and companies, and have seen exactly what you describe with reliance on “brains “ instead of knowing who works for you and cherishing their input. And that is why I worked in more than one industry, because they kept destroying what they had.

  • David Nielsen

    07/04/2020 06:30 AM

    Thank you Mike for this tremendous article on leadership. Please continue writing and putting this message out.
    We as believers in JESUS CHRIST must stand strong against the evil that is trying to destroy our Country. "Greater is HE who is in us than he who is in the world." Let's live our lives with that thought.
    GOD bless you and your family. And GOD bless the USA on this our 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of independence.