On Leadership and Inspiration

By Jedediah Bila

Last night I spent a few hours in Manhattan with some young conservatives. That’s a bit different for me, as most of my friends in the city are somewhere to the left of President Obama. Anyway, there I was–sitting in a cafe, sipping my favorite organic green smoothie, and talking about the future of conservatism.

When I left, I couldn’t help but be bothered by something. The 20-somethings I had just spent a few hours with were different than they had been the last time we talked.

You see, I had met those same young conservatives in 2008 right before the presidential election. I remember that they had been bubbling over with excitement, passion, and energy for the cause. I remember that they couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stop planning ways to impact academia and culture. They had never been terribly political before that, and had never really fancied politicians, but something had come along that inspired them.

As it turns out, someone had changed the way they looked at things.

Ideas are powerful. Principles propel us through life. But leaders are important. I’ve never been the type of person to put too much faith in any one individual. After all, we all make mistakes. We all have the potential to disappoint the people we care about. We all get lost in ourselves sometimes and forget the big picture. But when I look back at my life, there are people who really made a difference to me–the first teacher who really made me think, the first friend I could trust, a leader who proved she could be counted on.

As much as we invest in ideas, there’s a part of human nature that craves good leadership, reliable character, and people who remind us that even the dirtiest of businesses like politics and entertainment have rays of light in them. For me, those rays of light have been the people who have inspired me.

When I looked into the eyes of those young conservatives last night, that’s what was missing. Their ideas hadn’t changed. They still love their country. But their belief in a leader to help them do what needs to get done was gone. Someone, somewhere along the way, had given them hope that politicians don’t all fit some uninspiring stereotype. Where had that hope gone?

Leaders should never be glorified. They’re people, and by nature of that, can’t help but be flawed. But that’s not to say that Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan weren’t incredibly important. They took the ideas we value so much and brought them to life. In doing so, they captivated a nation. They changed hearts and minds. They inspired people to think and act and fight for what they believed in.

Like so many of us, the young conservatives I met with last night crave good leadership they can count on. So let’s not forget to keep our eyes open for those who have the ability to inspire, who sit upon records we can count on, and who manage to get people who were never passionate about politics to start paying attention.

They may not come along too often, but when they do, good leaders really can make all the difference.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila

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Michael McCormackThere is no point in continuing this armnegut. You are incompable (less likely) or unwilling (more probably) of altering your opinion based on facts and would rather continue frothing at the mouth about trumped up threats from Muslims, Communists, Socialists, or [fill in the blank any other group that you don’t like/fear]. Sharia is a terrible thing, and a tragedy for the people who actually have to live under it. Perhaps you could direct your considerable passion against sharia where it might be useful like in Afghanistan. I could continue to point out the reasons why sharia isn’t a threat, but at this point I think I’ll just let you see for yourself I guarantee you that as we near the end of our lives in 50 years or so that I will be vindicated, there will be no sharia law in America nor will there have ever been… Read more »


When possible, when facing an enemy, you cut the root. The root of the problem you speak of is the Communist teachers of these young men and women. So how do you reprogram a young person when he has been taught by liberals from grade one through college? Like silent Americans we have allowed this for the last hundred years.

L.H. MCDaniel

Very good observant & relevant article. Except for 2 minor points. In your 4th paragragh you mentioned a leader who proved “she” could be trusted, which is difficult to find. Now due to the media over the last 40 or so years which you seem to have bought into, where are the leaders who have proved “he” can be trusted? Due to our media there seems to be a huge lack of masculinity in our culture of which is desperatly necessary. otherwise, you are correct & probably aren’t aware of how you think. And one more thing. You mentioned Lincoln & Reagan, two of the most important presidents. I believe they can be as trusted as most. But you left out possibly the most important “white guy” & that would be Mr. Washington.
Otherwise, very good article.


We are as hypocritical as the liberals are. We espouse liberty and freedom, except for social issues. Abortion, gay marriage, birth control, et al are personal choices in the election booths. If I’m out of wrok and cannot feed my kids, do you think I would ever vote for the holier-than-thous who spend an inordinate amount of time sticking their collective noses into the bedrooms of citizens, rather than spending time and energy on fixing the economic problems destroying our country? We will keep losing elections if we don’t stop the witch-hunts for “sinners” and start paying attention to the real important issues of the day.

Jonahton Kerkhoff

The problem is that the supposed contrast to the liberal Democrats is the Republican Party. The Republican Party nobility-those established long term leaders-do not want a true conservative movement but prefer their own comfort/wealth/power and as such are in bed with the left. An example of their so-called rising stars is Marco Rubio who has made his mark by catering to the illegal alien element. Then there was Dick Lugar, clown prince of amnesty, John McCain the liberals’ choice for the Republican Party leadership, on and on. When a true conservative is running this establishment ignores, fails to support or supports the opposition. If a true conservative is elected they are muzzled or forced into the liberal while pretending to be conservative mold.

John Leo

This is an interesting article but it does contain some inaccuries. For instance Ms. Bila talks about most of her friends being to the left of Obama. Nonsense! The only people who are left of Mr. Obama are the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China and the former Soviet Union. I also find dubious her mention of a discussion with young conservatives in Manhattan. THERE ARE NO CONSERVATIVES IN MANHATTAN; young or otherwise!!! At least not out in the open. Given the left’s unbounded hatred for anything conservative, any conservative who dared show his face in Manhattan would likely be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.


Josh said at 01/30/2013 at 1:40 pm: Republicans … should drop the social conservatism and replace it with Libertarian values of personal freedom. I can’t imagine anyone rejecting that philosophy if they understood what it meant.

I agree with Josh (except for the last part — people DO reject liberty if, as millions are today, they are mesmerized by the current wolf in sheep’s clothing, secular humanism). But libertarian views, deep respect for personal liberty, opportunity, and free markets; a shunning of invasive, expensive, and exploitative government — we ARE ready for this, if only more people understood this libertarian view.

I, too, have great respect for Sarah Palin but believe she is unelectable. We need an electable leader. And we need legal clarification of what is a naturalized citizen before nominating a child of immigrant parents. One illegal president is enough.


I think Sarah Palin is that leader.Now that Sarah is unshackled from FOX, maybe she will emerge to take this country where it needs to go. She can reform and certainly inspire America.

Kevin in NorCal

Abraham Lincoln endured numerous political and personal failures and miseries before and during his presidency. Ronald Reagan was continually mocked by the elite before and during his presidency. These young conservatives need to learn humility and perseverance. Instead of looking for the next media-anointed political star, look for the quiet, thoughtful conservative fighting and losing but not giving up. Your future inspiring leader is currently learning from his or her setbacks and growing stronger in character. And anyone surrendering now to remain popular and relevant, good riddance! This is the time to filter out the weak, phony, and self-interested.


As it turns out, someone had changed the way they looked at things. WHO??? Sarah Palin???


Well put. That is exactly what’s wrong with the conservative movement. Republicans must figure out a way to get the silent majority on their side and in voting booths. IMO they should drop the social conservatism and replace it with Libertarian values of personal freedom. I can’t imagine anyone rejecting that philosophy if they understood what it meant.

Diana Erbio

Your observation that something was missing in those young conservatives since the last time you met is important. “You say their ideas hadn’t changed. They still love their country. But their belief in a leader to help them do what needs to get done was gone.” That is a good thing because that will inspire them to take on the roles of being leaders themselves. Maybe as future politicians, but just as important as leaders in their own fields of interest. America needs the next generation to begin to take the lead in media, education, entertainment, science and business to go back to our roots of an America that values individual freedom and equal opportunity for all, with the recognition that equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome for all because that is impossible.

Richard Lankenau

Interesting take on the post-election disappointment of the young conservatives you met with. What I seem to notice when speaking to this current young generation is an avid hunger for something they can believe in. These inquisitive youth seek to separate themselves from their brain-dead, game playing, celebrity fawning “friends” and accomplish something worthwhile. They’re starved for knowledge. They overwhelmingly respect life, have an optimism, albeit guarded, about the future and how they can shape it in a constructive and positive manner. They listen almost enraptured to examples of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable hardships armed with an unshakable faith in God and a strong will to succeed in spite of any obstacles placed in their path. But your right. They also seek and need leaders; not any one in particular but many. They will eventually find them among themselves. Meantime, until each one of them looks into a mirror… Read more »

John Dutton

Weakness in the face of evil is pandemic. Republican nominee 2016, Member Poll? None of the above.


Thanks for this. Right on point.