Consider character when voting this year

Character counts in all aspects of one’s life. At home, work, school, or wherever and whenever, one’s character is central to one’s life. And the character of the individual is the virtuous cornerstone of one’s life.

We are now in the throes of a national and local election season. The character of the American electorate will clearly be demonstrated by its voting pattern. As we listen to and read the latest headlines, the voters are giving increasing attention to the various candidates and their position on the issues, and most importantly, on the values on which each candidate stands.The stakes are high during these very uncertain times.

There are a number of major policy issues facing the American public. Several of these issues include: jobs and the economy, health issues, safety in our schools and in our communities, security in our homeland, and concern for our military and our veterans. Also, on the cutting edge, is free trade, the local economy, and control of our national debt. Further concerns are: inefficiency of government, honesty in public communications and what appears to be the lack of transparency in the public arena. In fact, we are seeing the infectious growth of politicization of almost every issues in the public arena. If ever we are in need of trustworthiness in leadership, that time is now! Virtue in leadership is paramount.

In several previous articles, we noted the significance of “likeability” and “competence” on the part of candidates for public office. And other virtues which stand front and center are truthfulness, reliability, resourcefulness, and humility on the part of candidates. Truly, personal character of honesty and humbleness are prime desirable qualities. They are the building blocks for wise and prudent leadership and they are the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Without virtuous character there can be no trust. Deception is the antithesis of trustworthiness. Americans have had enough of “heartless- wonders” and “characterless word-smiths.” A trustworthy person has the integrity likes a rock that is solid and unwavering. Integrity is about actions rather than just words. To be a trustworthy person, a code of conduct has meaning based upon ethical principles of human value and virtue.

We hear much these days about the character strengths and flaws of the candidates for public office. There is no room for self-centeredness and self-serving egotism on the part of candidates, each which is abhorrent to the American public. The American public is far more concerned about the seriousness of the affairs of state.

As I see it, there are certain virtuous strengths which are paramount on the part of candidates for public office. Heading the list, a candidate must possess … among other character attributes … the virtues of truthfulness, trustworthiness, competence, honesty, resourcefulness, and humbleness. Indeed, these are the virtues the American public is desperately searching for on the part of candidates for public office. Truly, these virtues make up the essential core of the American electoral system which stood the test of time in the generational annuals of American Exceptionalism. Indeed, dedicated and thinking Americans expect no less!

Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is a resident of Gowanda and Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

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