Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Scholars who have studied the development of leaders have situated resilience, the ability to sustain ambition in the face of frustration, at the heart of potential leadership growth. More important than what happened to them was how they responded to these reversals, how they managed in various ways to put themselves back together, how these watershed experiences at first impeded, then deepened, and finally and decisively molded their leadership.
“If there is not the war,” Theodore Roosevelt mused, “you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get the great statesman; if Lincoln had liven in times of peace, no one would have known his name now.”
“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed,” Abigail Adams wrote to her son John Quincy Adams in the midst of the American Revolution, suggesting that “the habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.”
While the nature of the era a leader chances to occupy profoundly influences the nature of the leadership opportunity, the leader must be ready when that opportunity presents itself.
As a young man, Franklin Roosevelt had daydreamed of his own political ascent molded step by step upon the career of Theodore Roosevelt.
// Abraham Lincoln.
“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,” Lincoln began. “I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed. I am young and unknown to many of you.”
While Lincoln’s ambition was as central to his makeup as his backbone, it was, almost from the start, two-fold. It was not simply for himself; it was for the people he hoped to lead. He wanted to distinguish himself in their eyes. The sense of community was central to the master dream of his life—the desire to accomplish deeds that would gain the lasting respect of his fellow men.
He asked for the opportunity to render himself worth: “I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealth or popular relations to recommend me. If the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointment to be very much chagrined.”
Abraham Lincoln was born for better things than seemed likely or even possible.
The springboard to the development of Lincoln’s ambition can be traced to his recognition, even as a young boy, that he was gifted with an exceptionally intelligent, clear, and inquisitive mind. He was able to learn more swiftly and understand more deeply than others. A dream that he might someday be in a situation to make the most of his talents began to take hold.
What appeared a gift, he argued, was, in his case, a developed talent. “I am slow to learn,” he explained, “and slow to forget what I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel—very hard to starch anything on it, and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out.”
While his mind was neither quick nor facile, young Lincoln possessed singular powers of reasoning and comprehension, unflagging curiosity, and a fierce, almost irresistible, compulsion to understand the meaning of what he heard, read, or was taught.
Early on, Abraham revealed a keystone attribute essential to success in any field—the motivation and willpower to develop every talent he possessed to the fullest.
He understood early on that concrete examples and stories provided the best vehicle for teaching.
Lincoln was willing to face their disapproval rather than abandon what he considered right.
These attitudes were not merely moral postures. The young boy possessed a profound sense of empathy.
Some leaders learn by writing, others by reading, still others by listening. Lincoln preferred reading aloud in the pretense of others. “When I read aloud,” Lincoln later explained, “two senses catch the idea: first, I see what I read; second, I hear it, and therefore I remember it better.”
He came to trust “that he was going to be something,” his cousin Sophie Hanks related, slowly creating what one leadership scholar calls “a vision of an alternative future.” He told a neighbor he did not “intend to delve, grub, shuck corn, split rails and the like. I’ll study and get ready, and then the chance will come.”
From this unprepossessing start, how was Lincoln able to establish himself so quickly in the minds of the residents that within eight months they encouraged him to run for a seat in the state legislature? The answer, one local man explain, lay in Lincoln’s sociability, his “open—candid—obliging & honest” good nature. “Everybody loved him.” He would help travelers whose carriages were mired in mud; he volunteered to chop wood for widows; he was ever ready to lend a “spontaneous, unobtrusive” hand. Almost anyone who had contact with him in the little community spoke of his kindness, generosity, intelligence, humor, humility, and his striking, original character. Rather than golden myth making tales spun in the wake of Lincoln’s historic presidency, these stories, told by the score, join into a chorus of the New Salem community to form an authentic portrait of a singular young man.
In this first foray into politics, Lincoln also pledged that if his opinions on any subject turned out to be erroneous, he stood “ready to renounce them.”
They recognized a leader in their midst just as surely as he had begun to feel the makings of a leader within himself.
Lincoln was neither bashful nor timid. He was simply paying close attention, absorbing, readying to act as soon as he had accumulated sufficient knowledge to do so. A finely developed sense of timing—knowing when to wait and when to act—would remain in Lincoln’s repertoire of leadership skills the rest of his life.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”
I have learned from long experiences that plain people, take them as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a broad and humorous illustration than any other way.
So clear was his recommended course of action that “his listeners wondered why they had not seen in that way themselves.” It was “his thorough knowledge of human nature,” one fellow legislator observed, that “made him an overmatch for his compeers and for any man that I have ever known.”
“We followed his lead,” a Whig colleague recalled, “but he followed nobody’s lead; he hewed the way for us to follow, and we gladly did so. He could grasp and concentrate the matters under discussion, and his clear statement of an intricate or obscure subject was better than an ordinary argument.”
Fearing anarchy above all, he believed it essential to abide by a law until that settled law be lawfully changed.
Every citizen must be able to read history to “appreciate the value of our free institutions.” And reading about the Revolution and the making of the Constitution was more urgent, for time had passed and remembered scenes of the Revolution were fading. Indeed, Lincoln declared that the story of America’s birth should “be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall be read.” The founding fathers’ noble experiment—their ambition to show the world that ordinary people could govern themselves—had succeeded, and now, Lincoln concluded, it was up to his generation to preserve this “proud fabric of freedom.”
Still others, through reflections and adaptive capacity, are able to transcend their ordeal, armed with a greater resolve and purpose.
The greatest passion he harbored, he confessed to Speed, was “to link his name with something that would redound to the interest of his fellow man.”
From the beginning, young Lincoln aspired to nothing less than to inscribe his name into the book of communal memory. To fulfill what he believed to be his destiny, a different kind of sustained effort and discipline was required, a willingness to confront weakness and imperfection, reflect upon failure, and examine the kind of leader he wanted to be.
The key to Lincoln’s success was his uncanny ability to break down the most complex case or issue “into its simplest elements.”
“He had the happy and unusual faculty of making the jury believe they—and not he—were trying the case.”
Indeed, “the leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for tomorrow that can be done to-day.” The key to success, he insisted, is “work, work, work.”
His pursuit of knowledge was anything but random. It was directed toward understanding the role and the purpose of leadership.
He resisted “extremes of opinion”.
What persuaded and changed minds was the sincerity, clarity, conviction, and passion of the story he told. “The inspiration that possessed him took possession of his hearers also,” a young reporter noted. “His speaking went to the heart because it came from the heart. I have heard celebrated orators who could start thunders of applause without changing any man’s opinion. Mr. Lincoln’s eloquence was of the higher type, which produced conviction in others because of the conviction of the speaker himself.
“A great storyteller will always be rooted in the people,” essayist Walter Benjamin writers.
“If we could first know where are and whither we are tending, we could then better budget what to do and how to do it.”
The more he relied upon his own perceptions of what he should say and exactly what it would take to win the nomination.
The story of his life and his laborious efforts to educate himself made Lincoln into “a man of the people,” the American dream made flesh.
Struggle had been his birthright, adversity his expectation.
His spoken and written words were pared down, leaner, more measured, cautious, centered, more determined, displaying a rhetoric less hectic yet no less impassioned than the poetry he had delivered half a lifetime earlier at the Lyceum. He has found his mature voice.
How had Lincoln been able to lead these inordinately prideful, ambitious, quarrelsome, jealous, supremely gifted men to support a fundamental shift in the purpose of the war? The best answer can be found in what we identify today as Lincoln’s emotional intelligence: his empath, humility, consistency, self-awareness, self-discipline, and generosity of spirit. “So long as I have been here,” Lincoln maintained, “I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.” In his everyday interactions with the team, there was no room for mean-spirited behavior, for grudges or personal resentments. He welcomed arguments within the cabinet, but would be “greatly pained,” he warned them, if he found his colleagues attacking one another in public. Such sniping, “would be a wrong to me; and much worse, a wrong to the country.” The standards of decorum he demanded were based on the understanding that they were all involved together in a challenge “too vast for malicious dealing.” It was this sense of common purpose that had originally guided the formation of the cabinet and would now sustain its survival. What can be learned from Lincoln’s success in keeping this disparate team together?
An ongoing attentiveness to the multiple needs of the complex individuals in his cabinet shaped Lincoln’s team leadership.
Lincoln was aware of the jealousy engendered by the specter of favoritism. Accordingly, he found exclusive time for each individual team member.
Lincoln insisted he did not care if someone has done wrong in the past; “it is enough if the man does not wring hereafter.”
In the end, it was Lincoln’s character—his consistent sensitivity, patience, prudence, and empathy—that inspired and transformed every member of his official family. In this paradigm of team leadership, greatness was grounded in goodness.
“Whoever can wait for it can see it; whoever stands in the way will be run over by it.” Speaking in a similar vein, he said: “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
This acute sense of timing, one journalist observed, was the secret to Lincoln’s gifted leadership: “He always moves in conjunction with propitious circumstances, not waiting to be dragged by the force of events or wasting strength in premature struggles with them.”
Transactional leaders operate pragmatically. They appeal to the self-interest of their followers, using quid pro quo, bargains, trades, and rewards to solicit support and influence the behavior of their followers. Transformational leaders inspire followers to identify with something larger than themselves—the organization, the community, the region, the country—and finally, to the more abstract identification with the ideals of that country. Such leaders call for sacrifices in the pursuit of moral principles and higher goals, validating such altruism by looking beyond the present moment to frame a future worth striving for.
For Lincoln, dramatic, transactional strategies provided the nuts and bolts of principled, transformational leaders.
This open-door policy, Lincoln explained, is the “link or cord which connects the people with the governing power.”
“A country that is worth living in time of peace is worth fighting for in time of war so I am yet willing to put up with the hardships of a soldiers life.”
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln rose with great and unaccustomed cheer to greet the final day of his life.
// Theodore Roosevelt.
When an opportunity comes, a person has “to take advantage” of that opportunity. “I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
Their disdain did not dissuade Roosevelt, who turned their condescension on its head: “I answered that if this were so it merely meant that the people I knew did not belong to the governing class, and that the other people did—and that I intended to be one of the governing class; that if they proved too hard-bit for me I supposed I would have to quit, but that I certainly would not quit until I had made the effort and found out whether I really was too weak to hold my own in the rough and tumble.”
The first success, he argues, belongs to the man “who has in him the natural power to do what no one else can do, and what no amount of training, no perseverance or will power, will enable an ordinary man to do.”
The second and more common type of success, he maintains, is no dependent on such unique inborn attributes, but on a man’s ability to develop ordinary qualities to an extraordinary degree through ambition and the application of hard, sustained work. Unlike genius, which can inspire, but not educate, self-made success is democratic, “open to the average man of sound body and fair mind, who has no remarkable mental or physical attributes,” but who enlarges each of those attributes to the maximum degree. He suggest that it is “more useful to study this second type,” for with determination, anyone “can, if he chooses, find out how to win a similar success himself.”
There was nothing ordinary about his intellectual vitality, his curiosity, or his ambitious dream life.
Thee read aloud to his children in the evenings after dinner… and encouraged each of them to follow their particular interests. Above all, he sought to impart didactic principles of duty, ethics, and morality through stories, fables, and maxims.
Leaders in every field, Roosevelt later wrote, “need more than anything else to know human nature, to know the needs of the human soul; and they will find this nature and these needs set forth as nowhere else by the great imaginative writers, whether of prose or of poetry.”
Roosevelt’s insistence that he had no great gifts is contradicted not only by his prodigious memory.
“The young man never seemed to know what idleness was,” observed Arthur Cutler. HIs ability to concentrate, one contemporary recalled, was such that “the house might fall about his head,” and “he would not be diverted.” He regarded procrastination as a sin. Preparing ahead, he recognized, freed him from anxiety—a habit of mind that would set an example for his colleagues in years ahead.
“The story of Theodore Roosevelt,” one biography has suggested, “is the story of a small boy who read about great men and decided he wanted to be like them.”
“If it were not for the certainty, that, as he himself has so often said, he is not dead but gone before,’, I should almost perish”
With the same single-mindedness he had given to his books, his specimen collection, and the building up of his body, he launched a crusade to make Alice his wife.
Privilege can stunt ambition, just as the lack of privilege can fire ambition.
“Wherever he went, he got right in with the people,” connecting with them, tasing with them, enjoying them, without the slightest trace of condescension.
“no man is superior, unless it was by merit, and no man is inferior, unless by his demerit.”
“to work in his own way”
“There is nothing brilliant or outstanding about my record, except perhaps for one thing,” he told a reporter, “when I make up my mind to do a think, I act.”
Roosevelt insisted that politics was not a proper occupation. As a citizen, one might intermittently engage in political activity, but it would be a “dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always put him under the heaviest strain to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.”
He began to see, he conceded, that he “was not all-important,” and “that cooperation from other people” was essential, “even if they were not so pure as gold.” And he learned that “if he could not get all he wanted, he would take all he could.”
Roosevelt maintained that empathy, like courage, could be acquired over time.
He did not want anybody to talk to him about it, and did not want anybody to sympathize with him. It was a grief that he had in his own soul.”
“He never was a man to hesitate to make a decision,” Sewall recalled years later. Once he could discern “a streak of honor” in a man, that man could be trusted.
“…by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.” He had to train his “soul and spirit” as well as his body. So, “constantly forcing himself to do the difficult or even dangerous thing,” he gradually was able to cultivate courage as “a matter of habit, in the sense of repeated effort and repeated exercise of will-power.”
“Perseverance,” he insisted, was the key to his success as both a hunter and a cowboy. He hoped his example of acquired courage would prove instructive, persuading other men that if they could consider danger “as something to be faced and overcome,” they would “become fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness.”
His expectations of and belief in a smooth, upward trajectory, either in life or in politics, was gone forever. He questioned if leadership success could be obtained by attaching oneself to a series of titled positions. If a person focused too much on a future that could not be controlled, he would become, Roosevelt acknowledged, too “careful, calculating, cautious in word and act.”
Thereafter, he would jettison long-term career calculations and focus simply on whatever job opportunity came his way, assuming it might be his last. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” he liked to say. In a very real way, Roosevelt had come to see political life as a succession of crucibles—good or bad—able to crush or elevate. He would view each position as a test of character, effort, endurance, and will. He would keep nothing in reserve for some will-o-the-wisp future. Rather, he would regard each job as a pivotal test, a manifestation of his leadership skills.
Roosevelt’s leadership style was, in actuality, governed by just such a series of simple dictums and aphorisms: Hit the ground running; consolidate control; ask questions of everyone wherever you go; manage by wandering around; determine the basic problems of each organization and hit them head-on; when attacked, counterattack; stick to your guns; spend your political capital to reach your goals; and then when your work is stymied or done, find a way out.
Any man who has been successful, Roosevelt repeatedly said, has left at opportunities chance provides.
Power “in most positions,” he believed, should be concentrated “in the hands of one man, so long as that man could be held fully responsible for the exercise of that power by the people.”
For Roosevelt publicity was not merely the craving to bask in the focused glare of public attention; public sentiment was his single most potent instrument for driving change.
His good-natured embrace of criticism captured the imagination of the crowd.
He succeeded in keeping Long’s trust bye remaining “beguilingly honest and open” about their differences of views. Of paramount importance was simply to acknowledge who was in charge.
Roosevelt understood from the start that leadership had to be earned; it was not something to be granted by rank or title. He had to lead by sharing his life with the men, by his own willingness to do anything he asked them to do, by never asking them to suffer anything he wouldn’t suffer first.
“It is the greatest possible mistake to seek popularity either by showing weakness or mollycoddling the men. They never respect a commander who does not enforce discipline.” Experience taught him to strike the right balance between affection and respect.
In a matter of weeks, he had established the kind of leadership that is handed by two-way trust. He had taken command of his men by assuming responsibility for them. He had shown his men that he was prepared to do anything he could to provide for them; they, in turn, were prepared to give everything he asked of them.
After the experience of leading his men in combat, earning not only their trust but their devotion, Roosevelt had come to believe that leadership itself constituted the chief of his talents.
The more he read about Abraham Lincoln, the more he valued Lincoln’s willingness to yield lesser issues for more important ones. “No man resolved to make the most of himself, can spare time for personal contention,” Lincoln was wont to say.
During his tenure as governor, Roosevelt liked to reference an old African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” If a leader “continually blusters,” “lacks civility” or likes to quarrel, Roosevelt cautioned, he would not go far. Nor would he succeed by speaking softly if “strength” and “power” did not lay “back of that softness.” As always, a good leader must make it clear that if negotiation fails, as a last resort he would be willing to turn his back and walk away.
He had preserved his relationship with Platt “by the simple process of telling him the trust, of always letting him know before anyone else when [he] was going to do something that I knew would be disagreeable to him.” Platt respected Roosevelt’s personal candor: “I have ever preferred that a man should tell me face to face that he will or will not do a thing, then to promise to do it and then not to do it.”
More and more it seems to me that about the best thing in life is to have a piece of work worth doing and then to do it well.
All one can do is to prepare oneself, to wait in readiness for what might come.
“As the ages roll by,” he suggested, it was only a matter of time “before the memory of the mighty fades.” It might take a hundred, a thousand years, or even ten thousand years, but eventually “the inevitable oblivion, steadily flooding the sands of time, effaces the scratches on the sand we call history.” Yet, on other occasions, Roosevelt replaced this dismissive perspective toward personal remembrance with the romantic heroism of dying “in the harness at the zenith of one’s fame” with the consciousness of having “work with doing” and doing it well. “In the days and hours before dying,” he speculated, “it must be pleasant to feel that you have done your part as a man and have not yet been thrown aside as useless.”
He had savored “every hour” of being president, “the greatest office in the world.”
As had been true throughout his life when beset by political loss, personal grief, or depression, Roosevelt sough relief from pain in physical challenge, motion, and adventure.
// Franklin Roosevelt.
No fixed timetable governs the development of leaders.
“Temperament,” Richard Neustadt argues in his classic study of presidential leadership, “is the great separator.” Roosevelt’s self-assured, congenial, optimistic temperament as the keystone to his leadership success.
Roosevelt’s ability in later years to adapt to changing circumstances, to alter his behavior and attitudes to suit new conditions, proved vital to his leadership success.
Walter Benjamin suggests that collecting is a way of ordering a disordered world. He notes that collecting holds a special meaning for children, offering in a small corner of the world where the child is in charge, experiencing “the thrill of acquisition” and the pride that comes with unifying and mastering a hodgepodge of assorted items.
While he did not learn as a fledgling academic often does—by mastering vast reading material and applying analytical skills—he possessed an incredibly shrewd, complicated, problem-solving intelligence, coupled with a supple, and often jaunty, verbal capacity.
All his life, Franklin learned more from listening than from reading in solitude. He was able to absorb great quantities of information by hearing people talk.
The ingrained expectation that things would somehow turn out positively allowed him to move steadily forward, to adjust and persevere in the face of difficulty.
A signature component of what would characterize Franklin Roosevelt’s fundamental style—the ability to make decisions without hesitating or looking back, coupled with a propensity to keep the process of determination hidden from view.
As would be true the rest of his life, once he made a decision, he rarely second-guessed himself. He refused to squander energy by raking over and reexamining whether he had made the right choice.
From the start, Franklin “had a distinct feeling that in order to win he must put himself into direct personal touch with every available voter.”
Of all the strengths Roosevelt displayed during the campaign, none was of greater significance than his ability to assemble and sustain a remarkably talented and staunchly loyal team that would remain together in the years ahead.
“Humility is the first and greatest of virtues. If we don’t learn it on our own, the Lord will surely teach it to us by humiliation.”
“I get to know people quickly and I have a pretty good instinct about them,” adding, “Sometimes that instinct is better than a long and careful investigation.”
“What is the State?” Roosevelt began. The State was created by the people for their “mutual protection and well-being.” One of its central duties is to care for its citizens who are unable, through adverse circumstances, to maintain their lives without help. In normal times, such aid would be provided by private or local contributions. But these were not normal times. The state had responsibility to do its share, not out of charity, but out of duty.
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Roosevelt’s confident cheer and powerful shoulders—symbols of his resilience—that made it possible for the common people not only to believe and trust him but to identify with him.
“When the American people feel they are doing all right for themselves they do not give much thought to the character of the man in the White House; they are satisfied to have a President ‘who merely fits the picture frame,’ as Warren Harding did.” However, “when adversity sets in and problems become too big for individual solution.” then, Sherwood argued, the people start looking anxiously for guidance, calling for a leader to “step out of the picture frame and assert himself as a vital, human need.”
The leader must be ready and able to meet the challenge presented by the times.
Don’t confuse what people in Washington are saying for what people in the country are feeling, Roosevelt repeatedly counseled his aides: “Go and see what’s happening. See the end product of what we are doing. Talk to people; get the wind in your noise.”
Roosevelt’s gift of communication proved the vital instrument of his success in developing a common mission, clarifying problems, mobilizing action, and earning the people’s trust. His faith never foundered that if the people “were taken into the confidence of their government and received a full and trustful statement of what was happening, they would generally choose the right course.” This reciprocal connection between Roosevelt and the people he served lay at the heart of his leadership.
Roosevelt’s uncanny ability “to keep his head above the welter of administrative problems,” to see “the whole picture” and “keep his eye on the objectives of highest importance.”
The energy of the crowd gave him “a sense of belonging, gave him happiness.”
Franklin Roosevelt had died as Theodore Roosevelt had once yearned he might die himself, as a leader in harness in the midst of battle, his life dissolving into the task before him.
// Lyndon Johnson.
Storytelling, Johnson taught his students, was the key to successful debating.
At the core of Johnson’s success in the Senate, however, was his celebrated ability to read character, to gauge the desires, needs, hopes, and ambitions of every individual with whim he interacted. In short order, Johnson was able to memorize the entire institution, its people, its rules, its traditions. “When you’re dealing with all those senators,” he explained, “the good ones and the crazies, the hard workers and the lazies, the smart ones and the mediocre—you’ve got to know two things right away. You’ve got to understand the beliefs and values common to all of them as politicians, the desire for fame and the thirst for honor, and then you’ve got to understand the emotion most controlling that particular senator.” And whatever Johnson learned of his cohorts, he never forgot. Over time, he was able to create a composite mental portrait of every Democratic senator: his aspirations in the Senate and perhaps beyond; how far he could be pressured and by what means; how he liked his liquor; how he felt about his wife and family, and, most importantly, how he felt about himself—what kind of senator he wanted to be. As Johnson’s mental profiles of his colleagues became more intimate and expansive, his political instincts became nearly unerring. Knowledge of the minutiae of the needs and desires of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle enabled him to assign places in senatorial delegations, gratify one senator’s wish for a trip to Paris and another’s desire to shore up his foreign policy credentials by attending the NATO Parliamentary Conference. Senators incurred debts large and small to Johnson, debts that would be owed for future collection.
Dirksen said: “Stronger than an Army is an idea whose time has come.”
“What convinces is conviction,” Johnson liked to say. “You simply have to believe in the argument you are advancing.” In this instance, Johnson spoke directly from the heart.
The right man at the right time in the right place had come as close as any president to envisioning and pursuing what Abraham Lincoln had once defined as the object of a free government—to provide all its citizens with “an open field and a fair chance” to use their “industry, enterprise and intelligence” to compete “in the race of life.”
The plight of being “Black in a White society,” he argued, remained the chief unaddressed problem of our nation. “Until we address unequal history, we cannot overcome opportunity.” Until blacks “stand on level and equal ground,” we cannot rest. It must be our goal “to assure that all Americans play by the same rules and all Americans play against the same odds."