Crises and challenges test leadership and forge leaders.
Within weeks of each other, two Americans have uniquely distinguished themselves as leaders in an uncommon way over the past few weeks. Two Americans, who have been toiling at their profession for decades, recognized their moment, their ability to step forward, and the need for leadership and clarity. They stepped into the bright lights, not necessarily by their own choice, but because they were prepared for their moment. Both are 79 years young.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Director of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health. He has been a physician and immunologist for 50 years. Dr. Fauci has lived and worked through the world’s most severe health crises, including AIDS and Ebola. In 2008 Dr. Fauci was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has authored, co-authored or edited over 1000 scientific publications. As COVID-19 has taken hold in the United States, Dr. Fauci has emerged as a ubiquitous credible voice and spokesman. Without flash or fanfare, he is maintaining a daunting schedule of 18-hour+ days. He has gone far above and beyond the requirements of his daily role, appearing wherever needed to outline and translate the issues of the virus. In the past 10 days Dr. Fauci has been on nearly every major news outlet, appeared as a Congressional witness and served as a calming voice from the Rose Garden. He too has been preparing for decades to arrive at this moment. His leadership in a time of national and global crisis can be instructional for us all.
Congressman James Clyburn
Congressman James Clyburn is a 14-term Member of Congress and a career politician from South Carolina. He has served in House Democratic Leadership in multiple roles. In late February, and on the eve of super Tuesday, he stepped forward to endorse Vice President Joe Biden for President. Up to the moment of his endorsement, Vice President Biden’s candidacy was in serious jeopardy, and the Democratic primaries were beginning to look like no candidate had a chance. Congressman Clyburn, who has earned the respect of a statewide constituency in South Carolina and beyond, knew what he needed to do, and what he was prepared to do. By clearly, unequivocally and dispassionately endorsing Vice President Biden, Congressman Clyburn single-handedly changed the trajectory of the Democratic primaries. The impact of the shift in momentum triggered by Congressman Clyburn’s timely and powerful endorsement, convincingly shifted the advantage to Vice President Biden. Regardless of your politics, this was a case of political leadership that will be written about for years to come.