More than a dozen politicians have formally announced candidacy or indicated their intentions to enter the election to become the 45th president of the United States. They include well-known figures—like our current president, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney—and the not-so-well known. (See a complete list here.)
Is there a “statesman” among them?
For that matter, are there any statesmen left in America? “Statesman” is a term one doesn’t hear so often anymore. But it’s worth a revival. A statesman is a woman or a man experienced in the art of government, a wise and respected leader, and—this is critical—an impartial promoter of the public good. A statesman combines vision and virtue to do the right thing in service of the public interest. As 19th century author, preacher, and abolitionist James Freeman Clarke said, “A politician thinks about the next election. The statesman thinks about the next generation.”
Do you know anyone in local, state, or federal office who is a statesman? If so, you can nominate him or her for “Lincoln Award for Statesmanship.” This non-partisan award is given annually by the The Statesman Group to those “who risk their own party’s support to do what they believe is right. Who see the forest before the trees, as well as the roots below and birds above. Who strike out to challenge the status-quo, but understand the world is far more complicated than human intelligence can comprehend. Who hold their convictions over their hearts, but not over their ears.”
I was recently invited to join The Statesman Group. I accepted because its mission and the mission of OurValues.org are in sync. This group is “a collaboration of moderate journalists, scholars and former politicians who inform, award and protect centrist thought in America.” The group supports civility in politics. It aims to encourage and protect those who exhibit statesmanship. One way is through the Lincoln award.
This week, we’ll search for statesmen in America. We’ll explore the qualities that statesmen do and don’t have. There are certainly many recent examples of unstatesmanlike behavior!
Who do you think is a statesman today?
Do any of our presidential hopefuls qualify?
How about statesmen in America’s past?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.