WHAT SHOULD WE TELL OUR GRANDCHILDREN?
By David Paul Eich
On November 7th, 2006, the Democrats had just won both the Senate and House of Representatives and many "blue state" supporters were already predicting a White House victory in the 2008 election. Republicans, on the other hand, were pointing fingers at President Bush and party leadership for failing to maintain power in Washington.
Meanwhile, Miss Natalie Rose had just learned how to pull books through the bed rails of her crib as she discovered that "standing" gave her a new visual perspective to the world.
While democratic leadership promised that "blue" representatives would reach across the aisle to their "red" adversaries, the sitting president echoed as much ensuring the public that both parties would work together for the good of the nation. During those days Natalie was more interested in a stuffed bear named, Henry. And though her eyes did occasionally drift toward the television as scores of Americans were waving the "red, white, and blue," their euphoria was of little interest to our granddaughter.
Two years later Senator Barack Obama would become the 44th President of the United States. His election was overlooked as Natalie pointed to the midwest "mitten" on a wooden map proudly announcing to her younger sisters, Noelle and Vivian, "That's where Nana and Granddad live." Cousin Connor had moved to Connecticut while cousin, Alessio, was born just minutes away from where the president-elect celebrated with his supporters on a beautiful evening in Chicago.
Now it's 2010 and both sides are accusing each other of political atrocities. And though I bask in the glory of five grandchildren, I remain very concerned for their future. Having voted in countless elections I have come to the conclusion that what I think rarely matters; what candidates promise rarely happens; and that pre-election rhetoric is often "mothballed" until the next election when the incumbent's opponent provides the public with unflattering visuals of broken promises.
So rather than wait for November's carnage, I've decided to challenge candidates to share who they really are; what they stand for; and why grandparents like me should vote for men and women like them? Instead of rehashing the obvious (healthcare access, higher education standards, lower poverty rates, stronger national security, more jobs, bringing the troops home, and protecting the American way of life), I'm asking those who wish to serve in public office to tell America where they stand on those behaviors that will define their legacy.
Will you follow the laws of this nation and the protocols expected of those in your position? Will you be able to make tough decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions? Will you accept the responsibility for the actions of those you hire or endorse? And when you are right will you share credit with others, regardless of political affiliation? But when something goes awry with your strategy, policy or directives, will you avoid blaming others and be accountable for what failed on your watch?
Do you have a full awareness of how blessed you are? Do you realize that your supporters need no reward for their endorsement other than the piece of mind that you will do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.
Will you be straight forward in your deliberations, avoiding clever deceptions hidden in legal wrangling and obtuse language? Is it reasonable to assume you will avoid those who suggest you conceal your agenda? And when you declare that the American people feel this way, or that way, will you back-up your statement with facts instead of reading a script that makes you look good before the cameras? In defending your positions will you promise not to hide behind the "out of context" defense? And is it reasonable to expect that your recommendations will be clear, concise, fair, and realistic?
Are you willing to stand up for those whose station in life is well below that which you have been given? Are you prepared to talk with the poor, not about them? Will you engage the disenfranchised and defend those who can't defend themselves, especially future citizens residing in the womb? Will your "sacrifice" reach beyond televised Christmas Day soup lines? To promise compassion is not enough: to demonstrate kindness is. Will you accept the challenge?
Too many politicians have sacrificed "due diligence" to protect voting alliances, avoid scrutiny, or participate in "spoils" all to common in Washington. Do you have the moral compass needed to make decisions regardless of "politically correct" agendas, special- interest group pressure, or man-made arguments challenging time-honored principles?
Will you refuse to genuflect to those whose god is a kaleidoscope of freedoms without responsibility, arrogance without humility, and debauchery without self control? Do you have the spiritual fortitude necessary to trust God, His principles, and the eternal hope He offers? And are you prepared to multiply in the lives of others those talents you have received from Him?
Will you be faithful to your vows, obligations, duties, observances, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Constitution of the United States? Will you stand behind the tenet, "a promise is a promise?"
Are you prepared to deal with political setbacks, betrayal, and indifference? Can you swallow your pride and move on when you are not going to win? And do you have the character to delay gratification and/or accept difficult circumstances?
Will you ask forgiveness when you choose to act as judge and jury, poison others with your words, lose control in your anger, are hostile and bitter, filled with self-interest, or suspicious of others' good fortune? And should your colleagues demonstrate these same weaknesses, are you willing to forgive their transgressions? If heaven is your destination, then forgiveness is your passport. Are you prepared to take this journey?
Are you in full support of the Bill of Rights and its inherent freedoms? Will your platform recognize each person's right to privacy? Will you acknowledge that citizens must control their actions, desires, and passions for the sake of personal welfare and the welfare of others? And will you insist on obedience where laws must be enforced?
Too often newly elected officials institute a "sea-change" in philosophy, priorities, and political position. Do you have the fortitude to resolutely face difficulties while standing strong in your beliefs? And are you willing to be crucified for these beliefs?
ON SOCIAL JUSTICE
Should all citizens receive equal treatment in education, economics, health care, and criminal justice? Will you demonstrate tolerance and respect for different races, religions, cultures, and customs while recognizing that intolerance is necessary where common sense and/or the loss of America's founding principles are at risk?
On behalf of my grandchildren, I hope that those who vote this November will heed Abraham Lincoln's warning: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you're to test a man's character, give him power."
David Eich is author of Happiness Only in the Next: 7 Choices for Eternal Life and The "F" Word: Good Words for Great Leaders. David and his wife, Cindy, reside in East Lansing, Michigan.