Sailing Ships and Master Craftsmen

I was listening to the Mark Levin Radio show this evening (It’s OK, I also listen to Erick live in the AM when he’s on the Macon Station), and a couple of phrases he spilled out during one of his passionate rants got me thinking, so I have to give credit to his show for making me think a little bit.  When he was on a roll, he reminded us that the federal leadership’s main job is to preserve and protect the Constitution and pass it to the future. He spoke of the value of the Constitution, and the ways the current administration and Congress were doing damage to it.

As I was listening to him, I was thinking about the primaries just past and those in the next couple of weeks, as well as the elections in November.  I was trying to figure out a way to get Mark to talk about what we, as voters in the trenches, can do in these contests to ensure we’re choosing the right people for the offices up for election.  I agree totally with the point he was making — that the people we send to Washington have to be the right ones — we have to make sure that we have the right team in Congress to get us back on course.  Unfortunately, with all the campaign ‘image making’ and media hype and exposure, it can be really difficult to figure out if the right candidates are on the ballot.

That brought to mind a couple of analogies which I think finally make enough sense to share.

Getting the country  back ‘on course’ is a natural way for me to think, because of my previous experience in the Navy, and because I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘real navies’  and merchant vessels of wooden ships in the 17th and 18th century. So bear with me…

We elect members of Congress and Senators to write laws to run the country and prepare the way for a future, which we always seek to be prosperous and peaceful.  In the same way that a master boatwright would use experience and ‘feel,’ along with proven tools and great materials to build a vessel, we want Congress to fashion laws and provide the budget to build a strong country.  Just as the boat builder designs the vessel to have the right draft and beam for the seas and coast to be traveled, we want Congress to create an economy that won’t run aground or break apart.  As the boat builder crafts a vessel capable of running fast in clear weather and stout enough to take on the occasional heavy seas that arise from time to time, we want Congress to craft a government capable of creating opportunity and preserving peace, but also capable of defending and sustaining the country when it’s under assault. Just as the boatwright uses plans and proven tools, we expect Congress to build the nation using the Constitution as the Plan and well proven concepts for its laws and budgets.

Just as every ship needs a capable Captain and crew, the country that Congress creates through its laws and budgets needs a proven Executive and his Cabinet.  A beautiful schooner or cutter deserves a Captain with experience, courage and proven leadership, crewed by able hands.  So it is with our country — the President and the Administration must be capable of not merely staffing the offices, but running the country with skill and courage from start to finish.

So as we draw near to the elections, picture the boatwright and ask yourself:  Does this officeholder have what it takes to craft the vessel?  Does he or she seem to have a clue about its design and the use of laws as tools to create it?  What would the result look like — a schooner or a sinking barge?  Would the vessel endure?

If you’re considering a candidate for Executive Office, would you hire that candidate to be Captain of a vessel?  Does the candidate have a record of assembling a crew and making the voyage happen? (And no, running a campaign, while potentially useful, should not be the only resume bullet here!)  Has the candidate been in charge of a similar ‘vessel’?  Does the candidate give you the image of a capable leader ‘on the bridge’ (Star Trek could be useful here, too…)?  Could you sleep in your cabin with this Captain and crew on watch?

The way ahead is going to be filled with challenge; it always is.  We need to select the right people to design and build the future, and the right crew to make the journey.  Primaries and elections have become endless cacaphonies of charges, spin, sound bites and images. It’s important that we find a way to cut through all of that and find the people with the expertise, experience, integrity and courage to lead us through it.  Folks like Erick and Moe have done a wonderful job helping cut through the noise and give us facts to use to make the choices. Now it’s up to us to follow through and get out the vote and select the candidates that will do the right thing.