8) Who has the best working comprehension of America?
John Adams, America’s second president, said, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
I believe a mastery of American history and politics is a must for any president, for it is a record of how others have led the country since its founding. To the degree to which one comprehends America’s ebbs and flows parallels one’s proficiency to lead. As the adage goes, if one doesn’t know history, he or she is doomed to repeat its mistakes.
Again, Thomas Jefferson offered a wise word here: “History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.”
Nothing could be more essential for this next president than a working knowledge of the past. The same is true for his or her knowledge of other nations, as it will reflect upon how they move America’s chess pieces on a global scale.
7) Who has the best ability to influence a volatile world away from its brink of destruction?
These are dangerous times. Mexican cartels are clashing at our borders. Global terrorists have taken their jihad to the borderless Internet. China has become the new global super power. European and global markets are bouncing up and down. Arab springs have sprung unrest across the Middle East. Syria is in utter turmoil. Countries like Egypt, Libya and now North Korea have unclear futures. Iran is determined to add nuclear energy among its arsenal, heightening its strained relations with the West. America is still in a war with extremists in Afghanistan. We’re also in a new warless battle to quell violent uprisings back in Iraq, etc.
Now is not the time for political novices, wimps or sheepish patriots in the Oval Office. More than ever, we need a profoundly wise Thomas Jefferson, who moved along a flailing new republic while maneuvering a war with Tripoli, or a Ronald Reagan, who was savvy and tough enough to build up the economy while toppling the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.
6) Who has clear and present moral fortitude?
Samuel Adams was correct when he wrote in his essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749, “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”
For our founders, moral fortitude was dependent upon the liberties of religion, not the laws of men. For example, John Adams, our second president, explained: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “That wise men have in all ages thought government necessary for the good of mankind; and, that wise governments have always thought religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the ministers of it, paying them the highest public honours, that their doctrines might thereby meet with the greater respect among the common people.”
Temptations are abundant when power is combined with position, and none is greater than the presidency. That is why it is mandatory that the next occupant of the White House demonstrate a life mastery over themself and the wiles of evil and corruption.
That doesn’t mean the next president is perfect, but definitely a moral model, including the ability to admit faults and learn from mistakes.
I believe what George Washington said: “[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man.” But I also believe what Washington also said: “We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.”
While character is preeminent to leadership, we must never penalize one’s past from progressing forward into a forgiven and fruitful future; lest we forget that some of the greatest national leaders in human history, like King David of Israel, committed heinous acts of immorality.
The dilemma for many in this race for the GOP nomination is discerning whether to choose the unblemished and relatively inexperienced youthful shepherd in the field or the veteran of war who battled Goliath long ago but slung mud on his face when doing so.
(Next week in Part 2, I will discuss the remaining five questions, including the critical economic ones, which address vital actions of the best candidate. Until then, for further study of where each GOP candidate stands on these and other critical issues, check out the Family Resource Council’s Voter Guide and this “Know the Candidate” chart.)