Does The Group Choose The Leader Or Does The Leader Emerge From The Group?

By

Leonard Zwelling

A good friend of mine said that America gets the leadership it deserves. This is a play on the quote from Joseph De Maistre that a democracy gets the government it deserves. Either way, in the current case of the United States of America, we like to believe that we chose the president. (OK, SOME like to think that). But does the president emerge from trends and beliefs that are already engrained in the population? Did we choose him or did he choose us? Who is leading whom?

Donald Trump is a crass, boorish, anti-intellectual bully who claims to be rich without real proof, claims to be a great deal maker without real proof, and is always sure he is being treated badly. Talk about paranoid. He really seems to believe that the news media is out to get him. Maybe they are. Surely many believe this to be the case. But is it the media’s fault that reporting accurately about what he says and does makes him look bad?

But if Donald Trump emanated from an America rife with racism, prone to believe hucksters, and really willing to believe it is the exceptional nation in all the world and has nothing to learn from anyone, then perhaps Donald Trump is the perfect leader for our time.

What can we be sure of after a year of his leadership?

First, the nation will be torn apart in fiery debate over the issues that were already dividing us—guns, abortion, freedom of speech, immigration, the veracity of the mainstream media, and the role of America in the world of power politics and trade.

Second, whatever meaningful discord there is left to have will be done with four letter words and insults.

Third, all discourse can be reduced to “I’m rubber you’re glue. What bounces off me, sticks to you.” Trump is guilty of no wrongdoing–ever. He is also being bad mouthed. Everyone in blue America is out to get him. And by the way, “you know who you are.”

Finally, there is no middle ground with Trump. It’s his way or the highway.

None of this is good for the country.

It is all very reminiscent of what happened at MD Anderson in 2011 when Dr. DePinho came and reduced an already divided community to civil war. You either joined the new team or you were gone. The institution paid the price—literally and figuratively. Now it is up to Dr. Pisters to heal the wounds that began in 2001 with the fallout from ImClone and Enron that created an environment both in Houston and Austin that gave birth to the concept of Ron DePinho. I believe that MD Anderson got the leadership it deserved in 1996, 2011 and hopefully, now in 2017, sanity has returned.

I believe that the more the DePinho residua vacates the scene, the more likely that Dr. Pisters will be successful. I understand that he has retained some of the leadership of the DePinho Era, and perhaps these folks can perform in a way that more closely reflects the core values of MD Anderson. We’ll see. They are getting a chance.

I want to believe that MD Anderson now has the leadership it deserves, but only time will tell. I am optimistic from what I have seen so far. If it does work out well, not only will it be because Dr. Pisters was the right man for the job, but also because the faculty and staff of MD Anderson are ready to go in a new direction.

A lot of the outcome will depend not only on the leadership, but the faculty and staff from which it emerged.

Leonard Zwelling