When a person aspires to the office of the President of the United States, he/she is asking for the leadership of the nation perceived to still be the greatest nation on earth, and in many ways it is.
Our prosperity at the moment is unrivaled, but at any moment it could also be unraveled. Some little glitch somewhere ... the collapse of an Asian nation's economy, the failure of the EuroDollar, a pullout of Middle East investors, or the explosion of the Middle East into war, could send our economy tumbling. Right now we're seeing debates on how to spend a prosperity that is as dependent on theoretical constants as is the defective theory of evolution, or the age of the universe or planet earth.
I am looking for a person capable of leading this nation and Al Gore is not the person, unless we wish to be led into the least freedom America has ever known. So I am looking at George W. Bush, a man who can probably think better behind a desk than on his feet in a debate with a rude, domineering stage-grabber.
What was particularly depressing in the first debate were the replies of both men to moderator Jim Lehrer's question, "how would you handle an emergency?"
First, what type of emergency? Lehrer's question was far too broad to elicit an intelligent answer from the most erudite of individuals (who were not on stage at the time). How a president responds to a hurricane or earthquake disaster is quite different than how he would respond to an international crisis that could precipitate World War III. Yet neither man bothered to ask Lehrer to narrow his question down, or divide it into parts. Gore rambled on to hold the camera (and hopefully the audience) while George W. reflected on a local disaster in Texas. Okay, boys, listen to the question, then get it down to answerable parts.
The making of an American president has to be the making of a leader. Some people are born with leadership intelligence and ability, yet never attain to the status of a leader of the people.
Opportunity doesn't make a leader but it does reveal the qualities of a true leader. Right now, in the "best of times" economically for the individual person, some major issues are never in the discussion arena for debate or reflection.
What is the leadership role? How is it defined? What individual components of character go into the persona of a leader? Perhaps they are discerned more by intuitive means than by externals, yet a leader is someone who has to both think on his feet as well as behind a desk.
But perhaps in the euphoria of a prosperity that buys a lot of things, most Americans have forgotten that change can happen nearly instantly, change that can rock the very foundations of the economic base we have come to trust.
And therein lies the key: TRUST. If a person is not trustworthy, he/she is not fit for a leadership role. We must be able to trust our president to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
We also need to remember that no one is an expert in all fields, the world is far too complex. A man can be a capable leader and have no idea how to design a web site or fix his automobile. We are not hiring a computer geek or an auto mechanic, we are about to elect a president and it will be one of two men selected by their respective parties.
If I were to question Americans, I would ask this: which of the two men up for the presidency would you TRUST to do the right thing? A polished liar with a lot of political experience? Or a man who seems just a bit too naive for the job, but who is not afraid to call on experts for advice?
If I can't have a leader who is the consummate ideal of all a leader should be, then my next choice is for the man who doesn't imagine he is a leader while fantasizing or outright lying about his history.
Maybe a naive man who isn't too naive to surround himself with experts isn't as naive as he seems. At least, if he is a listener, he will give us the benefit of the best leadership minds available for establishing both the direction of the nation and its response to emergencies, crises and events.
We're also voting for a direction, a philosophy of government on a scale that has never been clearer. It's socialism vs. more individualism.
The making of a president has come down to perception in America, primarily because of the television, that little electronic device that forever changed the face of American politics.
Traditional American values have been: respect for life, a strong educational system, the entrepreneurial spirit, compassion for the helpless and respect for the rule of law under a great constitution drafted by finer minds than we have had in office for years.
Think about that before you look at your bank balance and run out to vote for more cash in your wallet, because next year it might be gone anyway. Then, the America you have left is the one you need to be able to TRUST to help you up, not take control of what is left of our free enterprise system.
The real making of a president is in the values he represents.
© Dorothy Seese, 2000
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