Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- When It Matters Most
- Character Counts

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Great leaders arise out of great tests, like war and economic depression, and their character is ultimately assessed by how they respond to crisis and adversity.

Character isn’t just knowing what is right; it’s also doing what is right.

Last month, Benazir Bhutto, the former two-time prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated. She and her husband were accused of stealing more than $1.5 billion when she was prime minister from 1988 to 1990, and again from 1993 to 1996. But she had returned from self-imposed exile in an attempt to redefine herself and to give Pakistan another chance at democracy. She announced plans to crack down on terrorism, knowing that she might be killed. She risked her life and paid the ultimate price.

President John Kennedy, an advocate for civil rights, worked diligently to get a civil rights bill to a vote. He wasn’t even able to get his proposals out of committee. The Mob wanted him dead for the war he and his brother Bobby were waging against organized crime. Castro wanted retribution for the failed assassination attempts by the CIA against him. To underscore his commitment to civil rights and to show he would not cower or bend to intimidation, he placed his nation’s interests ahead of his own personal safety and went to Dallas in November of 1963 against the advice of his staff. He too, made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted by Congress seven months after Kennedy’s assassination.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights activist who advocated non-violent demonstrations to protest segregation and racial prejudice, as evidenced in the South’s many Jim Crow laws. White segregationist hated King. Threats against his life were ever present. Many of these “peaceful” demonstrations were met with mob and police violence. Even though King knew he was a target,he believed sacrifice-even the sacrifice of his life- would be necessary to help end discrimination, bringing racial equality to all Americans. King was right, and paid with his life.

Prior to the Second World War, President Franklin Roosevelt risked impeachment by secretly violating America’s Neutrality Laws. Roosevelt was providing extensive support to the British war effort against Nazi-Germany. The U. S. had not yet entered the war, and Britain was struggling to hang on. Had FDR not had the courage of his convictions, it’s likely the face of Western Civilization would look much different today.

President George W. Bush also has faced incredible adversity. After the attacks of 9-11, Bush announced his world-wide “War on Terror.” He acted decisively and hasn’t wavered in his belief that this nation is now engaged in the “mother of all wars.” Bush is not popular today. But history, not popularity polls, will determine his legacy.

Simply reacting to polls to determine where to shift the rudder of state is not leadership. Leaders are not super-heroes. Yet we often expect the impossible from them.

Character is essential to leadership. Bhuto eventually showed it. So did Kennedy, King, Roosevelt and Bush. It’s the same mettle that the brave men and women of our armed forces have been exhibiting to freedom-loving people of the world for more than 230 years.

In November we’ll elect a new president. We’ve been fortunate to have had many men of character occupying the White House – presidents who’ve kept us safe, while advancing the cause of freedom and liberty, here and abroad.

With uncertainty and danger lurking in every corner of the world, our next president’s character, courage and resolve will be tested, perhaps like never before. For the sake of all of us, and for the future of this republic and perhaps Western Civilization itself, may we choose wisely. Character: it’s always mattered; it always will.

Good job, Bob.


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