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Humility and Kindness: A Politician’s Greatest Assets

Logan Byrne, Esq. - April 11, 2021


2020 was a divided year for politics and the country. Now, the country remains separated by a clear partisan divide and the road to unification will likely be a lengthy and difficult journey. Considering the great divide, it is reasonable to expect politicians to work towards unity and cooperation. However, the past year has demonstrated that political leaders are more interested in their own power than unity or growth. In fact, many politicians have unabashedly demonstrated their lack of character and professionalism.


Michigan is no stranger to politicians who embarrass themselves on the local and national stage. Recently, Mike Shirkey, Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader, was cast into the spotlight when he was videotaped making sexist and conspiracy laden statements.[1] Unfortunately, this is not Mike Shirkey’s first time embarrassing himself. On January 18, 2021, Mike Shirkey shared a sneak peek into his racist mind when he referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Flu Army.”[2] Mike Shirkey’s rhetoric is not only sexist, racist, and inaccurate, but also demonstrates a more pervasive societal problem: politicians who think that they can say and/or do whatever they want without reprisal. Michigan deserves better than Mike Shirkey. Michigan deserves representatives who embody the Midwest charm, character, and hospitality that Michiganders hold close to their hearts.


Of course, pompous politicians exist outside of the context of Michigan. Ted Cruz was caught up in a scandal relating to his foolhardy trip to Cancun while his state, Texas, was suffering from power outages and freezing temperatures.[3] Ted Cruz’s behavior is hard to defend and reveals that he does not care about his constituents because he would rather take a beach vacation than help his state through an emergency. Like Michigan, Texas can do better and deserves better than Ted Cruz.


Not all politicians are bad, indeed, Texas’s own Beto O’Rourke actively tried to fill the void left behind by Ted Cruz’s failures. Beto O’Rourke led a phone-bank effort that made hundreds of thousands of calls to elderly Texans to ensure that they had food, water, transportation, and shelter during the sweeping power outages and freezing temperatures.[4] This is the kind of ingenuity and compassion that we should expect from all political leaders. After all, they are elected by and for the people, not for themselves.


Perhaps more politicians should take some unsolicited advice from the musical stylings of Tim McGraw: “Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie . . . . Always stay humble and kind.”


The country would benefit from leaders who care less about themselves and more about those for which they are tasked to represent. Empathy and humility are necessary characteristics of every great leader. The populace should elect individuals based on their actions, qualifications, and character and should not give weight to a politician’s ability to be quippy in press conferences or debates. This country has enough leaders who solely act for personal gain and merely have the capacity to respond to adversity with misplaced aggression and narcissistic self-preservation. At the end of the day, politicians should be elected for track records of true strength: the ability to respond to adversity with kindness, humility, and an open hand.


[1] Michigan Senate majority leader is caught on hot mic claiming that Capitol riot was a hoax, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/us/politics/mike-shirkey-michigan-senate-capitol-hoax.html.


[2] Shirkey statement emblematic of ‘xenophobic sentiments’ criticized in White House memo, Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/26/shirkey-comments-covid-19-white-house-xenophobic/4263368001/.


[3] Sen. Ted Cruz faces storm of controversy for flying to Cancun as Texas grapples with power outages caused by severe weather, The Washington Post, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/sen-ted-cruz-faces-storm-of-controversy-for-flying-to-cancun-as-texas-grapples-with-power-outages-caused-by-severe-weather/ar-BB1dNFym?ocid=uxbndlbing.


[4] ‘A Lot of People in Texas’ Trying to Do Ted Cruz’s Job, Former Challenger Beto O’Rourke Says, Newsweek, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/a-lot-of-people-in-texas-trying-to-do-ted-cruzs-job-former-challenger-beto-orourke-says/ar-BB1dPKJt?ocid=uxbndlbing.




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