Another batch of advisors quit the other day. This one was basically a whole advisory committee on HIV/AIDS that walked out en masse because, they said, the president just doesn’t care about HIV/AIDS. They aren’t the first. Elon Musk quit after the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and there have been others.
I can see their point. Why keep talking, if no one’s listening?
Of course, on the other hand, I’m not exactly sure the role of advisors is to say “Do as you’re fucking told, or I’m going to go sulk on the other end of the playground.”
Some days, well… yeah… you’re Aristotle.
But most of the time… You’re the slave boy on the victor’s chariot. Remember you are mortal. (No one cares. No one hears you. The cheering crowd will deify him, anyway.) You’re the gadfly, getting brushed away. Over, and over, and over.
Did you think there would be glamor? Sorry about that.
Obedience? Well, you’re clearly mistaking the role of “advisor” with the role of “mommy.”
Advisors have been an interest of mine since somebody–I can’t remember who, but I have my suspicions–mentioned that one of the signs of a ruler becoming a dictator is that he will begin winnowing out the advisors who don’t agree with him. He creates an echo chamber, and then, the downward spiral begins.
But Elon Musk wasn’t exiled. The Advisory Council on AIDS wasn’t crucified along the Appian Way. They just left.
Because things weren’t going their way.
And while I understand the concept of quitting in protest in theory, I believe there needs to be a slave boy. There needs to be a gadfly. An advisor isn’t an engine… he’s the brake. And he’s a failing break… but it doesn’t matter. Every little bit helps.
If nothing else, a ruler needs to be reminded–again and again– that his opinion isn’t the only one.
If he agrees with you, you’re not an advisor… you’re an echo.
It’s easier to be an echo.