It’s hard to imagine two more different presidents than George Washington and Donald Trump. A comparison of their leadership styles is…(how to put this delicately?)…edifying.
Washington was one of the few plantation owners to make a success of his farm, largely by starting his own businesses to create additional revenue streams, fought in the British Army as a colonial officer in the French and Indian War, later a member of the Continental Congress, then the victorious commander of the American forces during the Revolutionary War, then unanimously elected President of the Constitutional Convention, and then . . . elected the first President of the United States. He served two terms – and though his countrymen wanted him to continue — he retired to his home in Mt. Vernon.
King George III of England, the man Washington defeated in the Revolutionary War, said of America’s first president: Washington was “the greatest character of the age.”
Washington wrote in a letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.” (Emphasis added.)
Every single action Washington took was precedent setting, but not, as Donald Trump would say, “Unpresidented.” Washington was wealthy and successful, immensely experienced, served his country in many capacities, open-minded, and knew when it was time to leave the public stage.
Donald Trump . . . not so much. Trump’s wealthy but not all that successful — many bankruptcies and business closings and it has been asserted by more than one business writer and economist that Trump would be worth more if he had just invested in stock index funds. Trump has never served his country in any capacity before being elected president. His lack of experience shows itself with his many pronouncements about how government should work in the Gospel According to Donald.
His plans to build walls, ban immigrants, and begin trade wars all scream intolerance, not open-mindedness. As for leaving the public stage, the current occupant of the White House needs to put his name on every building, airplane, steak, and faux university. He needs bigger ratings than his successor on Celebrity Apprentice. He needs to have the largest audience in history at his inauguration, even if it requires alternative facts to be true.
Compare that to George Washington: After the Revolutionary War, the officers of the Continental Army were planning a rebellion since they had not been given promised compensation for their service. Washington addressed them, hoping to quell the rebellion. Washington read a letter from a member of Congress explaining the financial difficulties of the government.
Washington struggled to read the first part of the letter and stopped. He reached into his pocket and took out a pair of reading glasses. “Gentlemen,” said Washington, “you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”
That moment of Washington’s humility moved the men. Many were in tears. The rebellion was over before it started.
No matter how hard and how long you try, it is impossible to imagine a single moment of leadership like that from Donald Trump. And yet Washington’s life was filled with such moments. Because he was experienced. Because he was open-minded. Because he was committed to service. Because he was humble.
By: Geoff Loftus, 9 February 2017, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2017/02/09/leadership-smackdown-george-washington-vs-donald-trump/#18c5db228230