Understanding August 1988
The people of the United States are again entering the throes of a national election. Once in each four year period, we come face to face with the serious task of choosing a group of leaders to pilot our ‘Ship of State’. Since this is a task of great importance, your editor feels that we should establish firmly in our minds, certain fundamental facts as a guide to our choice. We are therefore repeating some of these facts which were pointed out in our editorial in Understanding Magazine of August 1956, but which are just as sound as they were then.
The task of choosing national leaders is approached by some people, in a spirit of levity. Others, far too many others, approach it in a spirit of belligerence. Neither attitude is conducive of success in picking the individual best suited for the job. We must remember that the Presidency of the United States, is not a prize, to be bestowed upon the actor who puts on the best show (or spends the most money,) nor upon the pugilist who wages the best battle. If we were choosing a man (or woman) to pilot an airplane which was to carry us on along and dangerous flight into an unknown region, we would be foolish to allow ourselves to be unduly influenced by the personality of the applicant. If we were wise we would realize that personality is not necessarily a reflection of character. Our chief concern would be the character of the applicant, and his (or her) ability to pilot!
In the coming months, as the time of decision draws near, we will be engulfed in a flood of oratory and exhortation, praising this man and denouncing that one. We will hear again the glowing promises which have been made in every political campaign since our elective system was established, and which have seldom been remembered afterwards. We will find that the truly vital issues are seldom aired, but we will be belabored with endless arguments on corollary subjects of comparatively little importance.
Let us remember that the political party to which the candidate belongs is, at best, of only secondary importance, we have enjoyed prosperity, and have suffered economic depression under each of the two political parties now vying for power. We have been forced into war and have found the way to peace under each. The argument that the coming into power of either party would pose a serious threat to our national welfare, is a baseless one as history has proven upon many occasions.
We should be slow to accept a candidate whose principal arguments are based upon destructive criticism, remembering the classic advice given by a famous barrister to his law student, “If the law is on your side, talk the law, if justice is on your side talk justice, but if neither law or justice is on your side, your only hope is to lambaste the opposition!
Also we must remember that the man (or woman) whom we choose as our chief executive today, has a more difficult task and a greater responsibility than has been placed upon most of our leaders of the past. The U.S. Government has, regardless of its own desire, been forced into a position of world leadership. The decisions and policies of our government are reflected in the attitude of every government on earth, whether satellite or free.
Upon our president and his (or her) advisers, will devolve the task of finding the path to peace. If it is to be a true peace, it must be one which recognizes the freedom and dignity of the individual. This is a tremendous task, but one which must be accomplished. There is no alternative. If our leaders fail to find the path to peace, no other qualities which they may have had will be of any significance to our descendants, if any survive.
Daniel W. Fry