What should matter in US politics

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on February 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

In this election year we are being treated to both the best and the worst that democracy has to offer. Among the best aspects of democracy on display are the right to free speech and the right for any citizen to run for public office. The downside of this freedom is the tendency for election campaigns to sink to low levels with mudslinging and personal attack ads.

Democracy is typically a bit messy and chaotic as it unfolds and allows the expression of the whole spectrum of humanity. But this year it seems that there is more negativity and ugliness than in some previous election years. With our nation facing economic, environmental, healthcare and educational crises it is difficult to tolerate political leaders who are focusing more on degrading their rivals than on offering solutions to our problems.

We need leaders in every facet of our government who understand what really matters and are willing to make decisions based on the most important values. Some of these ideals include:  

  • Triple bottom line. This is a term being used by socially conscious businesses to describe their concern for more than just profit as the bottom line. We need political leaders who are equally dedicated to People, the Planet and Productivity. 
  • Strength in diversity. Our nation is a melting pot of people from many diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions and races. It is one of our greatest accomplishments and strengths that we have come together with all our differences and found a way to live and work in peace. In this regard we should stand as a proud role model for the developing world of tolerance, cooperation and human rights. We need leaders who appreciate our national diversity and devote themselves to protecting the rights of all citizens. 
  •  Big vision. Our nation arose from the grand and wise vision of the founding fathers who were not afraid to imagine a system of government that had not existed before. Rather than attempting to turn back the clock and recreate the past, we need leaders who can continue to look forward to the future and see possibilities.  
  • Collaboration. Working together with other nations is the only way we will be able to solve our global crises. We need leaders who see the importance of cooperation and who can set aside their personal, party and national agendas in order to find solutions.  
  • Humility. While admittedly it takes a lot of ego strength to run for political office, we need leaders who remember that they are public servants. The best leaders know how to put their own individual issues on hold while they attend to the needs of the people. 
  • Integrity. We need leaders who have wholeness and balance of character, who understand what is right and good and are not afraid to fight for principle.

One comment I frequently hear is that no good or honest person would ever run for office in the US because our political system is so toxic. It is tragic that some politicians have used their elected positions for personal or professional gain. But the right to serve the people of this great country is still an honor and a privilege. Let’s hope that our candidates this election year will rise to the heights of that honor rather than sink to the lowest forms of behavior.

Categories: Current Events

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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