POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Where there is no vision, the people perish
--Proverbs 29:18

by David Trumbull

December 29, 2006

The November election put the period to sixteen years of Republican governors here in Massachusetts, and nationally the voters repudiated the Republican 109th Congress. In both cases the party in power had showed a staggering lack of vision for leadership of the Commonwealth or the Union. In 2007 we shall see if the Democrats have any vision beyond getting themselves elected.  

The 109th Congress had Republican majorities in both chambers. In the House of Representatives there were 229 Republicans and 201 Democrats plus one independent who voted with the Democrats (there were four vacancies in the House).  In the Senate there were 54 Republicans and 45 Democrats plus one independent who voted with the Democrats.  

The 110th Congress, which will convene in January 2007 will have a Democratic majority of 233-202 in the House of Representatives, the first such since the 103rd Congress of 1993-1994.

In the Senate both the Republicans and the Democrats will hold 49 seats. Two seats will be held by Independents who have agreed to caucus with the Democrats, thereby giving them a 51-to-49 majority. Republicans have been the majority party in the Senate since 2003. The last time the Democrats controlled the Senate was after Republican Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, in May 2001, left the Republican Party to become an independent voting with the Democrats to organize the chamber with a Democratic majority of 51 to 49.

Here in Massachusetts I'll be watching to see how our new governor, Mr. Patrick, fares in his attempts to govern in the face of a legislature that has, during the years of Republican governors and Democratic super-majorities in both chambers, grown accustomed to setting the political agenda for the Commonwealth with little regard for the occupant of the corner office.

For Governor Patrick, as for the Democrats in Washington, success will depend on developing, displaying, and implementing a vision for leadership.  

I've been thinking rather a lot about political and other leadership lately. Nova Publishers ( just announced the forth-coming publication of my book An Evolutionary Psychology of Leader-Follower Relations which I wrote with my colleague Dr. Patrick McNamara of Boston University

The purpose of the book is to summarize recent advances in our understanding of leader-follower interactions and to illustrate these principles with the lives of ancient political and military leaders from Greece and Rome. Dr. McNamara summarizes what is known about leader-follower relations by reviewing all extant papers on the topic in the psychology, neuroscientific and evolutionary psychology literature. While I mined the raw material for the book from Plutarch's compendium of 46 biographies of Greek and Roman leaders in ancient times.

In 2007, as control of the U.S. congress and of the executive office here in Massachusetts shift to the Democrats, let's watch to see if a new Cicero, Cato, or Caesar arises. If the newly empowered do not govern with leadership and vision, we may well see another reversal of electoral preferences in the next elections.