The upcoming presidential election has stimulated many discussions about what direction the nation must go and who should be our 45th national leader.
I have listened to much talk from many quarters, participated in roundtables and spoken myself to several groups already.
If leadership is knowing one’s role and defining a clear direction on the important things, the recent five-day visit to America of Pope Francis shares lessons for all of us. The so-called “people’s pope” embraced his role as a global leader of believers in God, not just of the Catholic Church or Christians in general, outlining his priorities by both word and action, treading carefully on the line between church and state.
In serving as a pastor more than a prophet, the 78-year-old Argentinean pontiff seemed to understand what Mahatma Gandhi said decades ago — that “those who believe that religion and politics aren’t connected don’t understand either.”
Pope’s messages consistently clear
The pope’s messages were consistently clear: honor God, love yourself, accept one another without conditions, take care of the vulnerable — especially children, seniors, the poor — and the environment; side compassionately with the prolifers.
By meeting with Fidel Castro before starting his visit here, Francis endorsed the continuing movement toward new and warmer relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Regarding the Catholic clergy in America, the pope’s walking orders called for “gentle shepherds” who take on the world as it is rather than as they would like it to be, creating a welcoming “humble home.”
Not a bad example of a kind of leadership for the nearly 20 major party candidates currently seeking the U.S. presidency to examine.
Presidential candidates need to answer important questions
Americans want leadership to address what is most important to the nation and to them. My own priorities include answers and ideas regarding the following questions:
1. What is the plan for reducing, over time, the federal budget’s annual deficit resulting in a $19T federal debt even if it calls for spending reductions in some programs and raising taxes for others?
2. How would you oversee America, militarily and diplomatically, in regard to our allies and others whose interests are different from ours, especially Russia and the Middle East?
3. What are the most serious challenges and best solutions for preparing businesses and the American worker to compete successfully?
4. How do we all play a positive role in our politically divided country to make the right things happen?
5. What changes in our uniquely American form of democratic capitalism need to happen to make it a win-win for everyone?
Almost 70 years ago, well ahead of his time, Minnesotan Harold Stassen, a former governor, ran a presidential campaign that was squarely focused on the issue of world peace in the aftermath of World War II. Though his 1948 campaign fell short, we could use more of that kind of leadership from our gang of candidates in 2016.
A Presbyterian, Chuck Slocum is the president of The Williston Group, a management consulting firm. He has served as state Republican chair and is a former executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership. Slocum can be reached at Chuck@WillistonGroup.Com.
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