In just hours, finally, we can rid ourselves of the constant press concerning the presidential race. For this author, it could not come soon enough. Over the past several months, voters have witnessed one of the worst presidential races in the history of our country. Neither candidate instills confidence and both candidates have shown despicable qualities whether in dealing with classified information, reflecting bigoted values, being grossly uninformed, or proving an absolute lack of trustworthiness. Some have even gone further and have said each candidate has committed crimes that make them ineligible for the job of commander-in-chief. Have we now scraped the bottom of the political barrel? Where have all the inspiring political leaders gone?
What happened to inspirational leaders like Abraham Lincoln, who despite several assassination attempts, the pressures of America’s most deadly conflict (in which more than 600,000 Americans lost their lives), and the very real possibility that he would oversee the destruction of the United States, was able to not only free the slaves, but ensured their lasting freedom by ratifying the 13th Amendment?
What happened to politicians like the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who overcame a late diagnosis of crippling polio to become one of our nation’s greatest leaders? During his unprecedented four terms, FDR and his policies dug this country out of the worst financial crisis in our history. Through programs such as the WPA and TVA, FDR put America back to work. His “New Deal” provided many programs that we still depend on today, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Social Security System. Let’s not forget the fact that he guided America through the worst conflict in global history, World War II.
Or what about a leader such as John F. Kennedy, whose level-headedness and forward thinking staved off what could have been all-out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union? During what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK and his advisors worked all hours of the day and night in an effort to defuse what was shaping up to be the showdown of the millennium. Shrugging off accusations of weakness made by members of his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kennedy shrewdly enacted never-before-used quarantines and blockades and, finally, secret, backdoor diplomatic efforts to end the crisis.
These are just three examples of leaders this country has produced, and there are dozens and dozens more: from Benjamin Franklin, a man beyond his time; to Dwight Eisenhower, who wisely warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex; and Lyndon Johnson, with his “Great Society.”
We need to demand more from America’s two political parties, or perhaps we need to put more serious thought and effort into creating a third political party that will fit our needs. Each time around it seems the choices have only worsened, and too many times have we as a people had to utter the words, “I’m voting for the lesser of two evils.” This country has a pool of talent that rivals any other, and this extends not just to the technology or industrial sectors, but to our political talent as well. We must demand leaders such as an FDR, a JFK, an LBJ or, dare we dream, an Abraham Lincoln. With the unprecedented access to knowledge now available, there is absolutely no reason we should expect anything less than greatness from those who we elect to lead us.
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