The state of Alabama is experiencing financial challenges like our the federal government and many other states. Our leaders are saddled with the task of what to do in such a crisis.
In 1998, Governor Don Siegleman was elected Governor of the state of Alabama on a pro-lottery platform and the following year it was soundly defeated in a state-wide vote.
This year, Governor Bentley and others in the Senate and House purposed a state-wide lottery to help raise revenue for Medicaid and other state needs. He promised a state-run lottery would be a "permanent solution" to the state's financial problems.
We know this is not true.
When asked repeatedly why senators and representatives were promoting this and the lottery legislation, the same line was given, "The people want to vote on it."
While there may be truth in that statement, the overarching truth is real leaders in the state of Alabama do not look to a lottery.
Leadership is not permitting the people to do whatever they want to do. Leaders are not in our place of government to simply poll the people to determine what they want and then propose legislation to provide it.
The very purpose of a leader is they see problems other people do not see, create solutions to those problems and then sell the people on the problem and solution. Leaders do not permit the people to lead, otherwise they vacate their role as a leader.
In fact, if the majority of the people wanted something that a leader knew was bad for them, he has a moral obligation to seek to show why their way is wrong and propose a more suitable solution.
Even thought Governor Bentley was the one proposing this lottery this year, at least last year he proposed tax increases to meet the financial demands. That is leadership.
No Alabamian wants to pay more taxes, but if the state is having financial issues that demand more revenue; then it is the responsibility of leaders to convince the people of Alabama of that need and convince them of the best and right solution.
Since the lottery bill failed in August, I will not use this space at this time to share why a lottery is a bad economic idea; other than to say it is the worse form of taxation.
And for us who believe the lottery is a bad idea, let us know the lottery did not fail in August due to our representatives having a change of heart and voting it down. It failed because the supporters of gambling did not get all they wanted in this bill (casinos); thus they voted the lottery bill down so they can come back at a later time and get the lottery plus more gambling.
But my point today is leadership.
The core of a leader is they see a better future for the people they are leading and they must move to deliver it. The problem is the people do not see it.
President John Adams was quoted in a book by his name written by David McCollough as saying, "The people I lead may not know what they need. But one thing I know, a man must be sensible of the errors of the people, and upon his guard against them, and must run the risk of their displeasure sometimes, or he will never do them any good in the long run."
Leaders lead against the tide of displeasure against them, not the approval of people behind them.
Ronnie Floyd in his book "Forward" says, "Leaders are able to lead people to go further than they would have gone on their own."
They see a better future, they want a better future.
Whether it is Thom Rainer, Ronnie Floyd, John Maxwell, John Kotter - leadership always take a people to a better future.
President Barak Obama was elected with the sun of a "Hope and change" shining brightly in our faces. Even though I did not vote for him, I still was hopeful in 2008 that he could deliver that for America.
That is partially what a leader does. He creates a brighter future in our minds, but then delivers it.
To our elected officials in Alabama, be authentic leaders - show us a better way and lead us there.