Over the past couple of decades presidential electioneering has seen a rise in the importance placed on the candidate's abilities to connect with the average person and general likeability. This is a troubling trend for a few reasons. First, average people tend to connect well with average people. I believe the office of the President of the United States calls for someone who is well above average. The office demands someone who has a high degree of intelligence and wisdom. The office demands someone with an extremely robust work ethic and driving sense of responsibility. The office demands someone who has weathered the pressures of leadership--it requires someone who knows how to deal with the stress of difficult situations and vitally important decisions. The office demands someone who has dealt with setbacks yet met with success time and again.
Second, candidates and leaders who focus on connecting with the average people on a personal level run the risk of forgetting why they are in office. The peoples' candidate may give into the temptation of crafting policies aimed at gaining greater approval and connectedness rather than solving long term issues. Presidents are there to lead, to be in front. They are there to fix current problems while avoiding future problems.
Third, one side of the political spectrum uses success to divide us as a people. They seek to create division through jealousy and misunderstanding. The claim that a leader must be liked on a personal level in order to help us is a falsehood created and abused in an attempt to gain and cling to power for selfish purposes.
During this election cycle I've listened to pundits, politicians, friends and associates wonder if Mitt Romney has the ability to connect with the average person. They complain and fret that his success has put him out of touch with the regular people. I applaud Governor Romney as the candidate who has set himself apart because of his success. He knows how to focus on problems. He knows how to work. He recognizes and utilizes the talents of others because he attracts other talented people.
In spite of his success, Governor Romney has faced many of the troubles and trials common to mankind. The difference is that he has dealt extremely well with life's challenges. His humility sets him apart from much of the rest of the world. His success has allowed him to assist many others dealing with the difficulties of life. He has used his good fortune and the rewards of his hard work to become a true public servant. He gives a significant portion of his income and wealth to charity. He has given a significant portion of his time to public service, in most cases not accepting a salary.
Of course, Mitt Romney is what many would consider a fortunate son. His working class father became a successful business man and political leader. The important question is what did Mitt do with that good fortune. Did he squander it as prodigal son might have? No. He took advantage of his good fortune. He achieved a top class education and then struck out into the business world on his own. In the end he gave his financial inheritance to charity. By no reasonable stretch of the imagination should his good fortune count against him. He grew his fortune and then turned it to help serve others.
Why should we settle for a candidate (president) who does not know the feeling of real success? Why should we settle for the candidate (president) who in actual accomplishments is no better than the average among us? Why should we settle for the candidate (president) who is in public service for himself rather than for the public? The likeable candidate often relates so well to the average person because they likewise are still wallowing in the problems and temptations common to mankind. The qualified candidate is a degree separate from the average in the population because they have moved past so many of the common challenges.
Governor Romney is not an average person. He has experienced success to a degree that many of us never will. He has given of himself to others in a way that many of us never will. The combination of these two traits, competence and humility, uniquely qualify him for the office of the presidency.
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