Character Counts in our American Electoral System
March 14, 2016
Character counts in all aspects of one's life. At home, work, school, or wherever and whenever, one’s character is central to one’s life. And the character of an individual is a virtue that really counts when we take stock of what we are, what we do, and for what we stand.
We are now in the throws a national presidential election season. The character of the American electorate will clearly be demonstrated by its voting pattern. As we listen to and read the latest headlines, the voters are giving increasing attention to the various candidates, scrutiny on candidates’ position on issues, and on the values on which each candidate stands.
The stakes are high during these very uncertain, if not traumatic times.
There are a number of major policy issues facing the American public. Several of these issues include: national and homeland safety, security of our national borders, and the unfortunate budgetary diminution of our military. Also, jobs and job security (just ask our recent school graduates about the jobs situation), the spiraling gloom of the economy, and the out of control national debt nearing 20 trillion dollars. Further, there are other issues such as: health care, education and common core, inefficiency of government, the Supreme Court vacancy, major Constitutional issues, the perception other nations have of the dependability of American integrity ...and the list goes on. If ever we are in need of trustworthiness in the leadership of our nation, that time is now! Virtue in leadership is paramount.
In several previous articles, we noted the significance of "likeability" and "competence" on the part of candidates for public office. These qualities are most desirable if one wishes to be favored by the electorate. And other virtues which stand front and center are truthfulness, reliability, resourcefulness, and humility on the part of candidates. The character of honesty and humbleness are prime qualities; they are the building blocks for wise and prudent leadership. Indeed, they are the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Without virtuous character there can be no trust. It's impossible; it can't exist. Deception is the antithesis of trustworthiness. Americans have had enough of "heatless- wonders" and "characterless word-smiths." A trustworthy person has the integrity likes a rock that is solid, firm, and unwavering. In other words: possessing principles of virtue. Principles are the underlying rules upon which one bases his or her code of action. They are not just feel-good slogans but are bedrock values. When those values are challenged, a trustworthy person has the moral courage to stand upon solid principles. Integrity is about actions rather than just words. To a trustworthy candidate for public office, a code of conduct has meaning based upon ethical principles of human value and personal integrity.
We hear much these days about the character strengths and flaws of the candidates for public office including that of the Presidency of the United States. There is no room for arrogance and self-centeredness on the part of candidates, both of which are abhorrent to the American public. The voting public is not looking for entertainment...such as in a sporting event or dramatic presentation... in our political arena. One- upmanship or "gotcha" comments are not sought by the electorate. But rather, the American public is far more concerned about the seriousness of the affairs of state.
As I see it, there are certain virtuous strengths which are paramount on the part of candidates for public office. Heading the list, a candidate must possess...among other attributes... the virtues of truthfulness, trustworthiness, competence, resourcefulness, and humbleness. And these are the virtues, I believe, the American public is desperately searching for within our candidates today. Truly, this is the essential core of our American electoral system which has stood the test of time in the annuals of American history.