There is no greater icon or role model in America, possibly in the world. than the
President of the United States. The president is a symbol of power and justice, and the
possibility offered in the pursuit of the American Dream.
It's about heritage and honor, war and peace, the influence of religion and the
leadership of a nation against its enemies of all kinds.
Yet, there is example after example throughout the history of our nation that suggests
that every elected president had their own set of little secrets that could embarass or
convict them of something, at least in the perceptions of people influenced by carefully
crafted sound-bytes and bias. And we all are.
In the research I've done, I can't find a single elected United States President who
hasn't done something that, removed of the spin and majority of the day, has not done
something questionable or deceptive or something that could be considered wrong or
unethical ins some people's views.
Actually, there is one: Jimmy Carter. Frankly, I'm not looking very hard when it comes
to him, because he's one of the people I consider to be a hero and role model. (And, no, I
am not trying to compare myself to him).
I'm like everyone else - I mostly look to see if they serve the citizens well, and if
they operate in a transparent manner. I don't want people I admire to be diminished
either. And yet, in the "make me world", it seems that becomes the cherished
target of political debate. The serious issues of this nation often go unnoticed.
There are people who have served this government who, in some people's perceptions,
could be convicted of war crimes. These are people who I admire in most ways, but I
simply recognize that the temptations of the power they were given sometimes is misued or
causes them to bend the rules in ways that might otherwise seem appropriate. An "ends
justifies the means" psychology may develop.
It's appropriate that we focus most on the successes and lore of our heritage; it
provides the greater example and vision of this nation to all who are reminded of it.
But, it's also important that we acknowledge how power does lead to excess so easily.
I would not want to invalidate the brilliant contributions of many people who might
be named in such an inquiry.
I would most certainly want us to remain vigilant, however, in reminding ourselves and
our leaders that as representatives of this nation, and as icons, that what we do and say,
the short-cuts that are taken and the principles that are confronted when words do not
represent our actions, make a difference in shaping the environment of our culture
and the integrity of the principles of Democracy.
I believe that negotiation and compromise are important elements of Democracy. But I
also believe that the compromise of principles, under any circumstances, is the greatest
danger to civilization.
We all do it. It's human, it's correctable inside of our individually chosen moral
disciplines, even worthwhile when wisdom is gained.
It's also a fundamental consideration when you take a step back and make decisions and
choices for the future direction of America. Are the choices being made based on
fact and good ideas, or imagery and masterful promotion?
I have a great reverance for political leaders, equalled only by my skepticism. I
think it makes for a good balance.
But what I find most useful to remember, as I've dealt with various famous people in
entertainment and politics, is that when you treat them as people with feelings and ideas
and ambitions, like a friend, all the while respecting the position they have worked to
attain, it allows them to be human, allows them to be more open and makes them more
willing to discuss issues openly and honestly, without the great concern of being called
wishy-washy or flip-flopping when the discussion leads to a better way of doing things.
In my mind, that's exactly what a GOOD leader would do. Of course, at some point a
decision must be made, and action must be taken.
When that moment comes, I want to know that informed American people are
willing to accept the plan that makes sense for the good of America, regardless of the
political environment, the latest polls or the talk of pundits.
A good leader would appreciate that kind of partnership.
Presidents are people just like you and me... it's a good thing to remember as we seek
to find ways to unite us as we face the challenges of the future with humility, courage,
common cause and an unwavering commitment to Democratic justice.