How elected officials handle confrontation, disagreement and challenges says a lot about their ability to be effective leaders. It speaks volumes about how they may treat employees, members of the public and individuals with whom they must cooperate and negotiate to get things done.
If you’ve worked for a government agency and had an out-of-control boss, or a savvy one, you understand the importance.
That’s why the yelling, name calling, finger-pointing and threatening behavior of two Republican candidates running for Tarrant County clerk was disturbing. The conduct went beyond the videotaped incident we shared. It was present for much of an hour-long meeting with the editorial board.
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We know politics in Texas is a contact sport. Candidates are expected to tangle.
We’ve heard from a lot of you who tell us you want elected officials who will “tell it like it is.” We agree — straight talk from politicians is a good thing. We deserve to know the details behind important deals and decisions.
Journalists expect their questions and those of opponents to be vigorously challenged. Debate is enlightening and helps us get to the truth.
But governing shouldn’t be a reality show. Leaders have to do more than step into the ring and bloody an opponent’s nose or worse. At the end of the day they have to balance budgets, referee employee disputes and persuade businesses to expand and hire in our communities.
Elected leaders have to innovate and work with others to bring the best talent and practices to their offices.
Bad behavior among politicians isn’t new. But the heightened incivility in our current political system has been magnified by social media, which allows us to share video of brawling individuals and candid moments with a few mouse clicks.
We shouldn’t cheer him on for the entertainment that incident provided and because we like a good fight.
We should expect and deserve more from our leaders. The best of them inspire others to follow and join them. They think big and move our communities forward. Their ability to do that affects the services we get from government and may well impact the taxes we pay for them.