"I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."
I usually try and steer clear of politics on this blog, but with the upcoming Presidential election looming, I thought it was timely to talk about leadership, and the importance of character. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal, character should matter to you in leader, and it should be one of the things that you consider first and foremost when selecting any candidate for public office.
I get tired of hearing excuses for bad behavior from our public officials. "There's no rule prohibiting him from doing that," or "she didn't break any laws." There's a big difference between legal and illegal, and right and wrong. People should care about that. Is it honest to do something dishonest just because there is no rule or law specifically prohibiting it? And there are a lot of things that are not illegal that are still morally wrong. Or are we saying we no longer care about arcane principles such as morality?
I can hear it now, "leave his private life out of it. You should judge him based on his ability to do the job." I disagree with that, and we've heard that excuse over and over again when representatives are out there having affairs, taking part is shady business deals, and sending nude selfies to young women on the internet. If that individual is representing you, you believe their values don't matter? Is that what we're saying? Your saying you'd trust a person's judgement to run this country as your representative, when they can't even manage their own life? I'm sorry, but I believe being an example is one of the most fundamental principles of leadership. I wouldn't go to a heart surgeon who I knew was an alcoholic any more than I'd attend a church whose pastor ran a porn shop.
I don't think Americans are ready to scrap our values just yet. I think this political spinning is growing tiresome with everyone. Everyone knows that twenty years ago the term "he misspoke" means he told a bald-faced lie. I think people are ready for representatives that just don't say what they think their audience wants to hear, but speak with conviction for the things they actually believe in. And when you have a conviction, and a strong belief, you'll find a long track record of consistent behavior to back it up. That's what you'll find sorely lacking in so many of our public officials today. A track record to back up whatever they happen to be claiming to strongly believe in that day.
Such individuals still exist believe it or not. I know hundreds of such men. Men I trust at their word. Men I know that have demonstrated what they stand for by their actions, not their words. Their life tells it's own story. Many I met in a Masonic Lodges. I know a lot of virtuous women as well. Sadly, not many run for public office. Politics has little to offer people of character. As George Washington once said, "it is better to be alone than in bad company."
So take a little time to think this time around. Who best represents you? Who do you trust? Perhaps instead of listening to the words, you should focus on what that individual has actually done. As the Bible says, "a tree is known by its fruits."
~Todd E. Creason