Leonard Zwelling

The newspapers were crammed with thought-provoking opinion pieces on Saturday, October 26.

Wyatt Wells writes about the futility of the strategic planning process and more specifically the uselessness of actual, written strategic plans in The Wall Street Journal. Most such plans wind up on a shelf unread and unimplemented.

Having been through a few of these strategic planning processes, usually in the form of large committees or committees of committees, I have to agree with him. For the most part, these are usually feel-good exercises run by outside moderators or facilitators who know nothing about the business for which they are planning and thus spend most of the time learning what the internal people in the room already know and agree on. Most of these employees would rather go back to work anyway.

Most strategic planning processes, if they need to occur, ought to be run by the executive leadership. They must have specific quantifiable goals and the leadership who made the plan ought to be held accountable for the plan. Were the targets met? If not, why not? If not, why should the leaders keep their jobs?

That’s what happens anyway. Even in the large-scale stage of our nation, the perceived success or failure of any elected incumbent is the number one issue on the ballot if he or she seeks reelection whether the candidate had specific plans or not.

Give Donald Trump credit. He believes that he was elected to build a wall that Mexico was going to pay for, to keep out immigrants, to return American troops home, and to make sure America is “winning.” He takes those promises seriously and that is what will really be on the ballot in 2020. Regardless of how poorly Donald Trump plans, it will be the perception of the American people of how he has led that will determine whether or not he gets another four years.

When neither candidate is an incumbent (e.g., 2016), it is not their plans that are compared by the electorate, but the perception by that electorate of who is the more fit to lead at that moment in history. Donald Trump won in 2016 because his brand of in-your-face politics and nationalism and pseudo-populism appealed to more people in the right states than did Hillary Clinton’s message which was essentially more of the same only in a less attractive package. No wonder she lost.

Bret Stephens makes a compelling case in The New York Times that Elizabeth Warren also would be a losing candidate for the Democrats, and I agree. As much as I like the idea of a single payer health care system, I still do not understand how she proposes to get from our current system that some 150 million Americans favor (employer-based insurance) to her plan to cover everyone with Medicare without new taxes on the middle class. At least Bernie admits to as much. Warren also wants to break up big tech, one of the key areas of American dominance and one that we cannot cede to the Chinese. She also is against fracking which, though needing careful regulation, has virtually freed America from the clutches of the Middle East petro-czars and put us in the best energy position we have been in during my lifetime. Once Middle America gets what Warren has planned for it, they will reject her out of hand. If the Democrats want to capture the White House, let alone the Senate, they will need a nominee other than Warren, Sanders or Biden. Too radical, way too radical and too old, and all with bad plans.

Finally, the light of reason emanates from Peggy Noonan’s column yet again (WSJ) as she writes about the passing of Elijah Cummings , but more importantly about how another Democratic candidate, Beto O’ Rourke, is making a fool of himself.

Apparently, during a CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues, Mr. O’ Rourke said that religious institutions ought to lose their tax-exempt status if they do not embrace modern, politically-correct sentiments regarding all civil rights including gay marriage. That would exclude the Catholic Church from tax exemption and mean that all the clinics, hospitals and other charities run by the Catholic Church would lose that status and probably go under. And those folks do a lot of good.

Ms. Noonan is appealing for less extreme stances in our political lives. The Democrats need to consider the down stream effects of what they feel is “right” because there is a wide range of opinion on such matters and the party that can embrace the widest range, not the narrowest, is likely to prevail.

There is much wisdom in these three articles and all are worth a read. But the message of them all is clear. Having “a plan for that” may or may not be a good idea and that plan, if you are going to insist on having it, needs to benefit the most Americans, not the fewest and it also ought to do the most net good, even if some precious principles must be compromised to do that most good.

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