For whatever reason, I found myself telling an out-of-state friend about the Arkansas Land Commissioner’s race yesterday. Specifically, I was describing the marked difference between L.J. Bryant and Monty Davenport, and I mentioned Davenport’s statement:
“I would rather not be on the cutting edge of technology, but on the trailing edge of computerized property data.” [Davenport further suggested the old stand-by approach of] “seeing what works best in other states prior to moving forward in Arkansas.”
My friend was incredulous at this. “What the $&^# kind of American, even in Arkansas, wants to be a follower? It’s not like Bryant is proposing running the land commission from space or being the first office to use nothing but flying cars; he’s talking about applying tried-and-true methods to cut waste, increase accountability, and increase service.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my friend was asking an important question. Forget the silliness of acting like the proposed technological measures are so far beyond the pale that anyone should fear them; what kind of person admits that he wants to be “on the trailing edge” of anything? More importantly, what kind of person who was running for a position as an elected leader would admit such a thing?
After all, it’s not like history — be it Arkansas, American, or world — is littered with people who made a lasting impact by being afraid to be a leader.