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Randolph County Herald Tribune - Chester, IL
  • Mark L. Hopkins: Who will you choose as president?

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  • One of the most intriguing aspects of national elections is the constant rhetoric related to leadership, ability, and experience. Both candidates and news writers debate what kinds of abilities and experiences prepare a person for presidential leadership, who has the necessities for the presidency and who doesn’t.
    Everyone values great leadership. The problem is, as individuals, we all have different expectations for our leaders and that makes reaching a consensus on who should be President a difficult process. The dictionary tells us that leadership is the art or skill of “guiding, conducting, or directing others toward achieving goals or specified results.” Unfortunately, when we are trying to choose our leaders we are all looking at the candidates through different windows.
    Some voters value communicators, speakers who are fun to listen to and can raise the emotions of a group on the campaign trail such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. By contrast, some presidents, Thomas Jefferson as an example, did not like to make speeches and sent messages to congress to be read by others.
    Some value strong backgrounds in foreign policy like Richard Nixon, or able legislators like Lyndon Johnson.
    In our history we have elected people with a variety of backgrounds to serve as President. Some have been long time Senators, Congressmen, or Vice Presidents. Others have been governors of states, while still others were military leaders who had great successes on the battlefield.
    The present candidates bring a variety of different experiences to the campaign. Hillary Clinton is a past Senator from the state of New York, served for six years as Secretary of State and, of course, was the wife of a president. Donald Trump is a successful businessman with experience in real estate and more recently as a reality TV star. Neither candidate has served in the military.
    Some historians have listed the “greatest” Presidents from our history as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and F.D. Roosevelt. Of this group, Washington was a trained surveyor who served as General of the Continental Army that won our independence from Great Britain. Jefferson, a recognized genius, was a farmer, inventor, and representative to the first Continental Congress, with too many other accomplishments to list. Of the four, only Roosevelt brought experience as governor of a state (New York). Abraham Lincoln was a country Lawyer from Illinois. Despite limited education, he was one of the great thinkers and writers from our history, but he had little experience in either state or federal government nor did he serve in the military.
    As a voter you do, indeed, carry a very important responsibility when you go to the polls on November 8. When you evaluate the candidates for the highest office in the land, who do you think most resembles the great Presidential leaders of our past, Clinton or Trump? Who has the aptitude, capability, and experience to succeed in what is without question the most difficult job in the world today, Clinton or Trump? Who will bring the attributes we need in a President for today’s challenges, Clinton or Trump? Will you choose the first woman to challenge for the highest office in the land or the businessman? Who is most prepared to serve? Have we done our homework? Are we prepared to make our choice and cast our vote?” Who will you choose?
    Page 2 of 2 - One footnote needs to be added to the foregoing. A necessity for democracy and, indeed, for our country’s approach to governance is that after the voting is over we all support the decision of the voters and add our assent to the will of the majority. When we vote we cast a ballot for the candidate of our choice, but we are really voting for democracy, for our country, for our future, for our children and grand children, for America. Can you think of a more important calling? Now, let’s vote.
    — Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.
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