Team of Rivals, or Swarm of Toadies? (EP. 370)

If we want better candidates and politicians, we need to be better voters. That is the subject of today's 10 minute episode.
If we want better candidates and politicians, we need to be better voters.


The strongest teams are made up of strong people, with different strengths, who advocate strongly for their positions. And when a decision is made by their leader, they sit down in the boat and row hard in the direction that was chosen.

Donald Trump’s style, in business and government, is to insist on his way, ignoring or even removing any dissenting voices. Blind loyalty above all. Joe Biden’s style has devolved into reading the teleprompter, with little knowledge–or care–about what is going on in his administration or in the world around him. In other words, abdication is Biden’s style.

Neither President has a clue about building and leading strong teams. But such were our choices in 2020, and heaven forbid, may be yet again in 2024.

That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.


Today’s Key Point: If we want better candidates and better office holders, we need to be better voters.

The “Team of Rivals” concept has been around at high levels in the US even since Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Chruchill, were strong leaders who are well known for putting together teams of rivals to successfully navigate their country through deep crises; WWII for Roosevelt and Churchill, and the Civil War with Lincoln. These teams of rivals included not only those with very different political and financial thinking, but former bitter rivals–and even those who had held their current offices before them.

Lincoln knew that he needed the help that would come from a strong cabinet, so he made the strategic decision to include his major Republican party rivals in his Cabinet: Salmon P. Chase as secretary of the treasury, William H. Seward as secretary of state, Edwin M. Stanton as secretary of war and Edward Bates as attorney general. Chase, Seward and Bates had been competitors for the GOP presidential nomination, and all of them, especially Chase and Seward, had a shockingly low regard for Lincoln’s abilities and promise.

Democrat Roosevelt’s cabinet included strong Republicans, notably Frank Knox, a rival Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 1936–and the man who FDR picked to be his Secretary of Navy during WWII. Prime Minister Churchill went a step further by appointing the immediate former Prime Minister and head of the opposition party, Neville Chamberlain, to be his number two man. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Churchill picked the best people, regardless of political affiliation.

No one can imagine anything like that happening today. Instead of using the talents of their rivals, our politicians are besmirching and belittling them. But aren’t many of us doing the same thing? Cancelling people because of their beliefs. Shunning family and former friends–on social media and in the real world–because of their political beliefs. 

At the official founding of our nation, with the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, only propertied white males could vote. This was the opposite of inclusiveness and diversity, but it had temporary advantages. These were the very men who had just gone through a revolution, an impossible revolution pitting a tiny country with an ill trained and poorly equipped military against the most powerful force the world had ever seen. Here’s a summary of our miraculous victory: We lost and we lost and we lost–until we won. This country, our country, had risked everything and won. America and its fighters risked their lives, property and money–everything they had–to gain their–and our–freedom. They had, in the most expansive meaning of the term, “skin in the game.” You can believe that they had enough of themselves invested in their country, that they–each one–would do a deep dive into the candidates and issues before voting. A deep dive that would go far beyond what the vast majority of what people–even those who feel they are well informed voters–are willing to do today.

Why? The answer is simple; they knew how precious freedom was–they initially did not have it, then risked everything to get it. And they were not going to endanger that treasured freedom by being casual voters.

Very few people today are anywhere near that diligent when it comes to voting. Why? The answer is again simple; we take our freedoms for granted, never believing for a moment that there is any connection between those precious–and rare–freedoms, and how well we inform ourselves before we participate in the political process. Since we do not realize what our freedoms are worth, what it cost to earn and maintain them, we assign little value to them. And they’re not worth protecting with something as easy as being well-informed. Note that we are not talking about taking up arms and fighting for our freedoms; we are talking about acquiring and analysing information. 

All too many of our politicians, media and influencers are no longer building upon the breakthrough vision that was America in 1776, desperately fought for and defended many times, and given to us for growth and protection. Those politicians, media and influencers are standing in the middle of the amazing life that we all benefit from. They not only criticize and demean our country, they want to harvest the bounty that we have all inherited, without replanting, and use it for their personal and party’s gain. Picture for a moment a group that inherited a generations old, amazingly productive farm and ranch, now covering hundreds of thousands of acres, which had grown to be able to feed millions of people. Now imagine with me that the new owners, the new leaders, wanted to stop growing the operation. They found legitimate wrongdoing in the past, casually ignoring the great many good things that were done, and now want to stop planting and growing. And at the same time, they want, as some sort of penance, to no longer sell what the enterprise produces, but simply give things away. How long will this enterprise that feeds those millions last; how long will it be able to fulfill its purpose? Does any of this remind you of the Golden Goose? This is an older episode, “Killing The Golden Goose.” EP 44.

Pause for a quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” -John F. Kennedy, Democrat, 35th President of the United States. How many of our leaders; how many of us, are doing that?We all have the personal responsibility to be very well informed–not merely opinionated–and conscientious voters. Dedicated to what is good for America as a nation long-term, not just what we as individual voters want today. Speaking of personal responsibility, this principle does not stand alone; the two main and interdependent principles at Revolution 2.0 are:

1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.

Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.


As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook,, and LinkedIn, And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.

This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again in a few days.

Will Luden
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