Lessons in Leadership


This past week I was in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with the Lincoln Leadership Institute, where we held discussions on leadership and the battle of Gettysburg. It was time well spent and on Monday night, I watched the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as many Americans did. On Wednesday as I was traveling home, it occurred to me that there were great similarities in what we, over the past few days had discussed regarding the leadership failures at Gettysburg and what is going on in our nation today.

To say that we are a nation divided is an understatement and I believe that the actions of one political party, the Democrats, have paralyzed this nation to the point where most people have turned toward the basic instinct of survival simply to get through this madness. To historians, it is a reminder of the events from the “Gilded Age” where abject poverty and inequality reined as millions of people immigrated into the country, just as they are today.

During the “Gilded Age” just like today, political corruption was rampant and both major political party’s battled for control. But today, unlike the “Gilded Age,” economics is not booming and our infrastructure is in badly need of repair.

In November 2014, I wrote in the prologue section of my book “Angels Watching Over Me” the following:

“I believe that our nation is facing a national crisis that will define generations for decades to come.  This crisis that I speak of is like none our country has ever faced in its history.  Crisis, you say?  What crisis?  The same critics who would ask this question will assert that in the last century, our country has only been attacked twice (Pearl Harbor and 9-11), rallying in both instances, and that it is government’s role to be the people’s safety net.  I strongly disagree with that logic.  We are at war, and the threat is an internal information war.  This is the age of information.  Technology and those who wield it are able to effectively control the masses. Billions, if not trillions of dollars are at stake.  By utilizing a deceptive ideology that co-opts young adults, enslaves the middle class, and paralyzes the elderly, effective control of the people has begun.  We have fallen asleep on our watch, and those who wish to do us harm encircle us.” 

Now there are some of you that based on reading the aforementioned paragraph, will be dismissive of what I am about to say, but quite frankly, someone has to say it, and whether or not you hear it, is up to you.

I believe that as a nation today, we have strayed into very dangerous territory, a move that is dividing us for political gain, without regard for the second and third order effects. We have allowed career politicians to use Saul Alinsky’s principles to shut down free speech, stifle businesses and growth, attack law enforcement, and finally, subvert the rule of law. We are not the great nation we once were.

Many of those who know me know that I am not beholden to either political party nor do I endorse either major candidate for president of the United States (POTUS). In fact, it begs the question, just how the hell did we get here? To me the answer is simple; a lack of leadership.

After serving 32 years in uniform as a solider in the U.S. Army and many operational deployments under my belt, every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn something new to improve my leadership skills. This visit was no exception. However, I left there this past week deeply disturbed with both presidential candidates and the direction of our nation.  I feel engulfed by this deep terrible sadness.

I say sadness because regardless of who wins the election, nothing good is going to come out of this looming election as both candidates are unfit to serve as POTUS. Oh sure, if Trump gets elected, we might have the wall built along our southern border, but as we all know, it’s hugely symbolic.  Like everything else, those that want to breach it will find a way and they will.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, her years of corruption ranging from the Whitewater scandal to defending her husband for numerous infidelities, and most recently, her lack of action as Secretary of State in the Benghazi, and her untrustworthiness in the email scandal, have positioned her as just another political elitist waiting in line for “her turn,” leadership be damned.  

Barack Obama said of Hillary Clinton in 2008: “Hillary Clinton will say anything to be elected and change nothing,” yet in my opinion, I believe he directed the Department of Justice to interfere in the FBI’s investigation into her email scandal. This is not some conspiracy theory, but rather an establishment of factual events. Just ask yourself, who enforces the law when the top attorney in the land meets with the husband of the accused on a remote section of any airfield in Arizona? How is it that the FBI allows other witnesses in the case to be part of the subject’s interview? Why were there no subpoenas issued? Since when is it permissible to put classified material on an unclassified server or allow people without security clearances to have access to it? As I stated earlier, we have strayed into dangerous territory and this election will not be the end all cure all, but the continuation of our wandering.

In thirty-seven days, we will elect a new president, but it will not be the event the media and many political pundits say it will be. ISIS will still be spreading death around the world, people in this country will still be looking for jobs, the economy will still be in the tank as will peoples wages, religious liberty will still be threatened, and political lies will continue as mission creep takes over militarily in Iraq.

I believe that America as a nation has yet to hit rock bottom and that the worst is yet to come regardless of who is elected. That is my predication. The longer we focus on race, gender, sexual orientation, restrooms, destroying businesses, and attacking our law enforcement professionals in favor of political correctness the further we as a nation will sink. History will record this facet as the legacy of Barack Obama, not because he was the first Black President, but because he failed as a leader, just as many did over the three days at Gettysburg.

In the coming months, we will take pause (God willing) over the holidays, to reflect on the craziness that has taken over this once great nation, and look to the future where perhaps a Joshua Chamberlain type leader will emerge to lead this nation out of the darkness and back to greatness.

Tomorrow, many people will take the opportunity to attend religious worship services and exercise their first amendment rights. I pray that you will join me and in the many long days coming, and they will be long, to pray for our nation, its healing, and the coming of a real leader who will inspire this nation back to greatness.

Colonel (Ret) John D. Vernon, USA, is the author of “Angels Watching Over Me” and is the CEO, American Warrior Press. Learn more at http://americanwarriorpress.com and follow him on twitter @JOHNDVERNON1. ©JohnVernon2016