By: Phil Williams
On this 22nd anniversary of 9/11, I hold no illusions that we won’t see a crisis again. The question is really “Who will be there to lead us through it?”
This past week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced via social media that despite all of the COVID-screechers lining up to put masks and mandates in place, “There are some on the left that still want COVID restrictions. Let me say it again – there will be no mask mandates, COVID vaccine mandates, or lockdowns in Mississippi.”
Firm, unequivocal and easily understood. Refreshing really.
Years ago, I told Rick Perry during his presidential campaign, that I wanted a “God-fearing gunslinger” in the Executive Office. Someone who is not faint of heart. A leader who can care about people and direct traffic all at the same time. Someone who operates decisively while listening to wise and carefully selected counsel. An executive who studies the issues deeply but will still hear advice. Someone who will admit mistakes and tell you what it will take to ensure they never happen again.
There’s not much of that available in the public arena right now.
But what about our state? We have crisis opportunities here as well. We are halfway through the final term of Governor Kay Ivey. Cultural, fiscal, and social fights are only getting more intense. The kind of leader we want as the chief executive of the great State of Alabama should already be on our minds because the race will begin right after this current presidential cycle is over.
I have served with inspiring leaders in military, political, and civilian roles. I know that none of the traits we should look for are imaginary. They are real, and when people are in crisis, they are needed. I submit that we need a God-fearing gunslinger to face down the times that we are in.
Having just endured the past few years of COVID, Biden, Afghanistan, BLM riots, and more, I find myself modeling in my mind what I know that we need and deserve in the governor’s office. It starts with a simple question: “What should a God-fearing gunslinger governor say or do in a crisis?”
Here’s some of my personal checklist:
- In a crisis, we want a leader who will stand up quickly and with steely-eyed confidence say to the people of the state, “We will get through this. We will be here tomorrow.”
- We want a leader who will say “I don’t know it all but there are people in my administration who do, and if they don’t, I will find those that can join our team.”
- That kind of governor would not long suffer any fool who let turf wars prevent governmental assets being of good use and would be willing to replace a person of any stature who impeded recovery.
- In a major crisis, the governor we’re looking for would meet with the press at least once a week to answer any questions candidly — the good, the bad, and the ugly — knowing that the wellbeing of the people is not about appearances or poll numbers.
- A God-fearing gunslinger governor would make known that “following the science” is only one aspect of decision making in crisis management and that considerations of culture, faith, liberty, and law will always be on the table.
- Such a governor would make clear that the government is not the end-all/be-all and would incentivize and galvanize the voluntary support and cooperation of the private sector and the vast resources and capabilities that exist outside of the walls of government.
- We hope for a governor who would refuse to allow politics to play into decisions that affect life, limb, or property — one who would not let politics enter into a crisis and negatively affect education and economy. That kind of Governor would openly say that they did not get elected to get reelected and that doing right ain’t that hard.
- That kind of governor would make clear that fear and shame are not tools of their administration. If a behavior is believed best (like getting a vaccine shot), then this leader would point people to it and not blame them for deaths and destruction for which they had no part.
- The governor I’m describing would direct that relief funds must be given liberally to the private sector in a manner that does not have the government picking winners and losers like we’ve seen in the last few years.
- That kind of governor would make known that any crisis-induced excuse to commit a violation of civil liberties would not be tolerated, and would make the preservation of our individual and corporate rights a priority evidenced by advancing collaborative work with the state legislature and the attorney general regardless of party affiliation.
- And lastly, in a time of crisis, we long for a governor who would walk among the people – eat at their restaurants – frequent their parks – visit their churches – hug their necks and shake their hands – and if necessary, visit them at the hospital. It is not enough to speak from the safety of the Capitol. A good leader must walk out under fire and exude confidence to those they lead.
So, what do I want from a governor for my state? I want a leader who can and will do all of the above. You show me a governor who will do those things, and I will be their champion! I will donate funds, knock on doors, and extoll their virtues.
Is there a God-fearing gunslinger in our future? I hope so. We need them for such a time as this.
By: Phil Williams