Integrity Matters
March 21, 2007

Give character test to candidates

Question: (E-285)

Dear Jim:

Your columns are about integrity and leadership. So what are your thoughts about the 2008 presidential campaign?


"March Madness" refers to the annual NCAA basketball championship series that leads to the crowning of a No. 1 team. National championship basketball programs generate increased revenues for their respective institutions and attract the next crop of talented players. Even though the basketball season begins the previous autumn, for many non-diehard fans, the games do not capture real attention until 65 teams are selected to participate in the "Road to the Final Four."

Presidential politics seem to have a similar period of preparation and qualification - thankfully only every four years - on the road to the nomination from respective political parties. Getting too excited by early polls reminds me of a track-and-field term, "rabbit," that refers to the sprinter who jumps out early but seldom finishes first in longer races. With many months of campaigning still ahead, today's presidential "rabbits" may not win the nomination.

This early in the "race for the White House," who knows who'll survive the campaign stresses and emerge from the grueling, noisy and sometimes upsetting shake-out that is the American political process? When individuals do not know where they want to go, any road will suffice. The same is true about leadership, including the presidency, suggesting that if voters do not know what they want and need, then the cleverest strategy with the most money will capture the presidency. Such an approach is fraught with danger, at home and abroad. So, here are seven questions designed for thoughtful voters:

  • What credentials will convince you the candidates will improve your life, personally, professionally, domestically and internationally?
  • What behaviors do you expect from a president?
  • Which candidates exhibit appropriate values in their respective campaigns?
  • With hundreds of millions of dollars invested in getting nominated and elected, what will assure you the candidate will be able to govern?
  • Who lights a fire of hope for the next generation, inspiring younger individuals to engage in the political process?
  • Who instills confidence in what has been good about America and could be good again?
  • Who will replace politics-as-usual that leverages partisanship and personal attacks with courageous cooperation and wisdom in the management of public affairs?
For the President of the United States to re-establish national enthusiasm, international impact and global legitimacy, a new generation - in age or attitude - or both - must assume leadership, ending arrogance, greed and gridlock. The Eight Attributes of an Integrity-Centered Organization should be evident in the next president: character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness.

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