In the past few weeks many of our nation’s business leaders and scientific groups have come together to issue boldly worded political statements. On June 28 most of the world’s leading scientific groups issued a joint letter to Congress. This week 146 silicon valley business executives issued a joint letter in collective opposition to an outlier candidate. There were many more similar small group and individual initiatives. The result is that the distinctions between data-driven and greed-driven public policy initiatives has never been more clear to anyone who takes the time to look. No doubt the timing of such actions was designed to combat the political spin being used to drive the Democratic and Republican Party national platforms this month.
But my point is that clearly some of our society’s true leaders are involved in influencing political opinion.
Two days ago I was criticized by a board member of an industry group that my public statements and positions are too political. The implication was that if I simply “toned down” and avoided talking about the important issues of our time, this would be good for my business and make me more palatable as an adviser to potential business clients. She meant well in offering me this feedback. She’s correct that it has become acceptable and normative to avoid discussing core issues of ignorance and greed. She’s right that I could likely fatten my own wallet by being politically neutral. But that doesn’t make it right. Leadership involves pointing out and denouncing the fallacies promoted by special interest groups as we see in the two examples above.
Taking on political positions is not a pleasant pleasant task but it is an ethical necessity. Leadership involves dealing with politics. It is time that anyone who considers themselves to be a leader recognizes and accepts this fundamental point.