Ben Franklin’s Politics

For better or for worse, I tend to subscribe to Ben Franklin’s style of politics.  My understanding of Franklin is that he was quite willing, even eager, to take on difficult political issues but he did so very carefully.  Franklin was the great compromiser who played a critical role in keeping the founding fathers with powerful egos working together toward independence.  Some might argue that Franklin’s style was too soft, at times passive-aggressive and perhaps, at times, inconsistent.  I, perhaps, could make the case myself.  None-the-less when I reflect on my style I probably have more of a Franklin style than the "ram it down the throat" style of Samuel Adams or the ideologue style of Jefferson.  Now, I’m not suggesting by any stretch that I in any way hold a candle to our founding fathers.  I’m just saying, in terms of style, I tend more toward the Franklin method.

I watched portions of the John Adams mini-series on HBO (one of the few perks of business travel).  I will long remember an exchange in one scene between Adams and Franklin.  Adams had just publicly humiliated a member of the Continental Congress who was opposed to declaring independence.  At the pub that night, Franklin scolded Adams for "embarrassing someone in public."  Adams replied sarcastically, "Should I do so in private?"  And Franklin said in earnest, "Absolutely in private.  They might even thank you for it.  But never in public."  Personally, I have been guilty of embarrassing people in public from time to time.  It made me feel good at the time but probably didn’t advance my cause too much.

As I look for ways to help our school district improve, I think about Ben from time to time.


4 Responses to “Ben Franklin’s Politics”

  1. Brian Herman Says:

    John, I always appreciate your personal insights and willingness to share them with with the world. It’s not easy to admit one’s own flaws… your humanness makes it easy for us to connect with you and listen to your opinions and vision for the future of our school district. Keep writing!

  2. Annette Higgins Says:

    I enjoyed this post.
    I offer this question to you. Do you think of you were a different person (gender or race…) you would have moved towards emulating Mr. Franklin’s style?
    I agree with Mr. Herman keep writing!

  3. Jim Hecocks Says:

    John: It’s refreshing to see a reflective person in the political realm. Wouldn’t it be great if this was the norm versus the exception in today’s world?! Keep up the good thoughts and pushing our schools, parents, and community to be better!

  4. Lindsey Says:

    Ben Franklin is awesome, and I’m glad people are finally realizing it. Sure, John Adams had an HBO special and Sam has his own beer, but Ben Franklin just got his own Sampa site:
    Join to meet other BF fans. And keep up the great reflections.

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