Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Losing Trust in Leadership: Philosophical & Theological Factors

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Losing Trust in Leadership: Philosophical & Theological Factors

Article excerpt


In the Western democracies of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Australia there is a waning of trust in leadership. (1)

While many factors are contributing to this waning of trust, one factor that must not be overlooked is the character of leadership discourse. This paper seeks to begin identifying some of the major points of tension within the contemporary postmodern mindset of these western democracies that affect leadership discourse.

In this paper I shall examine these points of tension in relation to the leadership discourse that was associated with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the continuing conflict in Iraq. (2) In looking at this relationship I will seek to understand how these tension points impacted three genera: elections; the Australian general election of 2004, the British general election of 2005 and the US Congressional elections of 2006.


There is an interesting point to ponder here. If there was in fact a loss of trust in government by mid 2004 in particular over the Iraq war, then one would expect that the lack of trust would have some impact on the results of the elections in 2004, 2005 and 2006. There was an impact but not the type of impact that one would have expected.

By 2004 polls and pundits agreed that there was a rapidly growing distrust in these three communities against their governments regarding the war in Iraq, and that distrust was undermining trust in these three governments.

In Australia the polls showed that Prime Minister John Howard (a center right PM who supported President Bush) was unpopular and likely to lose the election. Instead, in the Genera: Election of October 9, 2004 the Howard government was re-elected with an increased majority and gained 45.1% of the vote. (3)

In the United Kingdom in May of 2005 British Prime Minister Tony Blair (a "New" Laboi politician with pragmatic economic policies and socially liberal views, and a supporter of Bust in Iraq) appeared to be in serious electoral danger. While the election results clearly showed Blair's government was affected by the Iraq war situation, the Blair government was re-elected on May 5, 2005 but with a decreased majority from 167 in 2001 to 66 in 2005. (4)

In the United States in 2006 President George Bush (a social conservative and free enterprise/big business proponent who was committed to the war in Iraq) was confronted with his Republican Party majority in both Houses of the Congress being at stake in the November 7, 2006 Congressional Elections. Bush's polling data set his popularity at all time lows! Unlike the Australian and British situation, the incumbent Republican majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate were swept away (and for the first time in electoral history the Republicans gained no new seat in either House). (5)

In addition to this interesting point to ponder there is an interesting challenge here--the challenge is to give an overview of the elements of the contemporary postmodern mindset or world view when this mindset is open and by its nature continually developing. The characteristics of this contemporary postmodern mindset are themselves malleable, elastic, and, most significantly, they vary according to the social, cultural, academic or other contexts in which they operate.

Glenn Ward suggests that one must distinguish between "postmodernism" in general use and the use of the word postmodern in its application to a specific area of human experience. Ward gives, for example, the phrases "the postmodern world view" and the "postmodern mind" (6) and concludes that "postmodernism is most usefully thought of as an elastic critical category with a range of applications and potential understandings" (7)

Richard Tarnas observes that "Like Nietzsche. The postmodern intellectual situation is profoundly complex and ambiguous" and then suggests that "a few widely held working principles have emerge. …

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