Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Coronavirus Leadership Lesson From Margaret Thatcher: 'Great Love That Stirs Others'

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The Iron Lady and the Coronavirus Age, by Peggy Noonan:

Thatcher BiosColumnists often say things like “the tectonic plates are shifting.” They are shifting as never before and all at the same time. We have never seen this earthquake.

What is essential now from our political class? I find inspiration in a monumental work, the journalist Charles Moore’s three-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher. It is a masterpiece of fairness and insight. It is also something new, a work of justice done to a woman in modern politics.

At its heart it is not a story about political survival but about seriousness—about the purpose of politics, which is to guide your nation safely through the world while creating the conditions and arrangements by which your people can flourish. It is about winning the argument about how to achieve safety and flourishing.

In his stirring epilogue, Mr. Moore sums up Thatcher’s career, legacy, and essential nature. She cannot be understood, he writes, based only on her public statements. She must be seen also in light of her character: “Its contradictions were striking. She was high-minded and highly educated, yet had a common touch. She was fierce, but kind; rude, and courteous; calculating, yet principled; matter-of-fact, yet romantic; frank, yet secretive; astute, yet innocent; rational, yet capricious; puritanical, yet flirtatious.” She “combined an immense assurance about following her own way with a permanent uneasiness in life.” ...

What at bottom drove her? “If there was one uniting force in everything Mrs. Thatcher did, it was her love for her country.” All truly great political leaders have this love, which involves a heightened vision of their nation. Thatcher’s love was not always requited. “But great loves such as hers go beyond reason, which is why they stir others, as leaders must if they are to achieve anything out of the ordinary.”

We will all need to achieve much out of the ordinary in the next few years. Leaders, including CEOs and politicians, will have to get us through this thing. Love of country is the only place to start.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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