With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening, the economy faltering, and protests against racial injustice continuing, millions of Americans face difficult times and worry about the nation’s future. And with a presidential election around
the corner, it’s a critical time for the country to take stock of what political leadership should mean by going back to the principles embodied by the framers of the Constitution, says Dr. Jim White, author of The Broken America: Ten
Guiding Principles to Restore America.
“Mending the nation requires a return to the values of the Constitution and the civility and wisdom of our Founding
Fathers,” says Dr. White. “Citizens must hold leadership accountable at the national, state, and local levels.
“There is stupefying dishonesty and an alarming lack of accountability by politicians on both sides of the aisle. The global pandemic served not to unite us against a deadly common foe, the coronavirus but instead further divided the public along party lines. Regardless of which party voters belong to, there are political criteria all patriotic Americans should be requiring, and these can easily be found in the texts and teachings of our Founding Fathers.”
Referencing the leadership of the Founding Fathers as a framework, Dr. White cites leadership attributes he believes today’s political leaders must have to guide the nation back on course:
A clear, unifying vision. Dr. White says a political leader’s vision must be inclusive. “Political candidates usually have a vision in tandem with their campaigns that appeal to their bases and convince others to hop on the bandwagon,” Dr. White says. “Once in office, however, the vision needs to be amended to include all Americans – not just one
party or sector. The elected official must repeatedly convey the vision in a way that’s clear. People should understand
why the vision is important, what it means to the average citizen, and how it will be rolled out.”
Recognizes potential in others. Just as in business, it’s crucial for political leaders to hire the best possible job candidates. The problem, Dr. White says, is the freedom these leaders have in hiring cronies, donors and family can lead to less effective governing and even scandal. “Political leaders should be able to identify stars and empower them,” Dr. White says. “The leader is only as good as the team, and at the same time, ‘yes’ men and women are not what any true leader should want.”
Develops trust. “To some people, the words ‘trust’ and ‘politics’ don’t belong in the same sentence,” Dr. White says.
“The truth is, politicians often lie. We must always hold them accountable for telling the truth. Leaders must have a
level of transparency or else public trust in government gets lost.”
Shows empathy. “Political leaders must wear many hats, but the most important one is serving the people,” Dr. White says. “That means being present and empathetic when an unforeseen tragedy strikes. Leaders are looked upon to help provide immediate help in all facets, including emotional support and encouragement. Our leaders must represent all of the people and show that they care.”
Conveys passion. “The nation’s leaders need to have unbridled, unconditional love for our nation,” Dr. White says, “which translates to optimism and a bright future for everyone – not just the wealthy and privileged few. People want
to follow a passionate leader who puts the country’s interest above themselves, their political party, and winning.”
“Do today’s political leaders have what it takes to drive our nation?” Dr. White asks. “Tragically, the answer is as plain as day: no. But at a minimum, we must expect that our leaders will excel at the attributes the Founding Fathers exemplified.”