Being a leader requires more than good ideas in our society


Emma Cummins, Executive Editorial Page Editor

During a class discussion of The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, my teacher posed a question to myself and my classmates: are we responsible for the leaders we have?


We all understand what it takes to be a politician in America. Behind closed doors meetings, compromises and pandering are all part of the meal ticket every politician has to buy. But how much of that are we responsible for?


This presidential election cycle is, arguably, one of the worst cycles America has ever seen. I think most people would agree that the two candidates we have been given are inevitable causes of the political environment in the last decade. As evidenced by the Democratic National Convention debacle, it is no secret that political honesty and fortitude have become things of the past.  


Although I am young, I have the sense that much of what our two candidates are pushing is only working because most people wish to be told what they want to hear. This takes us to the heart of the issue. If our society had high standards, then why did we end up with such wholly distasteful candidates?


We can complain about corrupt, power hungry and fake politicians all we want, but who is electing them to office every two, four or six years? This is not meant to say that every person who calls out a politician is equally at fault, but one can make the case that our society has a problem with scapegoating.


It is understandable that every candidate has to compromise when it comes to becoming a politician. But, there has to be a standard set somewhere. We have let that standard fall by the waist side and instead chosen candidates who are in every way Machiavellian.


Trump and Clinton are both unpalatable. They are both politicians who lie to us constantly, insult us, and then ask for our vote anyway.


This election cycle is just one election cycle. Our country is incredibly resilient; we have come back from worse. But, if we continue to tolerate corrupt behavior from our politicians, nothing will change. At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own actions, politician or not. However, citizens like you and I set the standards. We can either decide to elect a politician for his ideas, or for what he promises to get us.


We have passed into the realm of celebrity politicians; it is no longer a battle of ideas in politics but a battle of who can promise the most.


The solution is quite simple. If my generation, and the generation before me, decides to expect more from our leaders we will get real results. Honesty, clear and explicit policy plans, and common decency are all what we should expect from our leaders.


Vote for an idea, not for a person. This is the only way to avoid the symbiotic relationship between a politician and his people.