How do we define America? Is it the land of the free, home of the brave? That characterization has been used so much it’s wore our thoughts thin to the point of complacency. If one could really bask in the meaning, they’d understand this great land is beyond definition or words. In brief, America is a collage of numerous souls free to be who they are.
Americans are uniquely represented by officials they elect, but what type of leader are they looking for?
It’s understood no one's perfect, but the fact is the 21st-century media can package a political narrative of a candidate and introduce that theme to an intrigued public for benefit or detriment of the individual. (There’s no denying the power of that.)
Americans tend to be forgiving, but several U.S. Presidents have had verifiable faults.
By today’s standards, Ulysses S. Grant would have been called an alcoholic. The GOP nominated Warren Harding in 1920, yet Harding had a reputation for heavy drinking and womanizing. During the election of 1884, Grover Cleveland admitted to having a child out of wedlock. Being promiscuous and having a taste for infidelity has plagued several Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton.
I'm sure a few can still recall Richard Nixon's declaration “I'm not a crook!” His role in the Watergate affair proved he was, indeed, one. Chester A. Arthur occupied the White House, but his role in numerous scandals classified him as a crook, too. One historian referred to Arthur as a “Reformed Crook,” though.
With obesity on the mind of many now days, a hefty Howard Taft, weighing nearly 300 pounds, could have been referred to a gym rather than the White House in 1908 when he won.
And what constituency would elect a man who never voted in any significant election and chewed tobacco in public? Americans did just that in 1848 by electing slave owner Zachary Taylor president. FDR was stricken with polio, but he was an American president longer than any other.
Americans will have to decide which is worst: knowing every possible flaw in a candidate or simply accepting a well-meaning leader on their merits. Besides, could someone like Abe Lincoln, a lowly log splitter by definition, be nominated now days?
What is it that Americans want in a President?
They want a president who revels in deep thought, the opposite of some shallow puddle. Someone who can kneel down and embrace a child without giving it a second thought is admirable – after all, they were that height once.
Most Americans are patriotic and admire someone who’s proud of the flag. They seek a leader who won't show weakness when an opposing threat rears its head, someone who won’t bow to the numbers nor apologize for such.
Americans look for a leader who isn't like some superficial cardboard cutout you see in a store. It looks like a celebrity, lifelike, but in reality it's nothing more than an advertisement, imitation.
A passionate person who can hardly hold back the tears when grieving with those suffering tragedy is what Americans foresee in a president; someone who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty right along with the downtrodden. Someone who sees the good of the land, not bad, is held in high regard.
A “One of Us” type president is someone who's comfortable dressing down in blue jeans and loves a Big Mac, but first and foremost, Americans want a leader who can unite the people and not divide them. They look for someone who won’t kick the can down the road, accepting blame and not throwing it on others. Someone who has the intestinal fortitude to admit their shortcomings with the uncanny ability to talk to, not down at the public, is an indelible mark Americans want.
A President who takes a vacation two or three times a year, like the normal Joe, would be no doubt acceptable to most in these poor economic times.
An individual who's convinced America needs a balanced budget amendment during fiscal lunacy, one who believes life begins at conception when abortion’s brushed off, in the sanctity of marriage, and one who believes tax dollars are removed from the well-being of businesses and individuals, that government isn’t everything, that’s the mold Americans wanna fill.
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, has been published bi-monthly since 2009. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or follow him on Twitter @GregAllencolumn