A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co. Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer A Real Education President BY RALPH L. LYNN All reflective people must agree with Winston Churchill that democracy is the worst form of government except all the rest. Unhappily, the one thing a democracy must have to prosper is the most elusive: leadership characterized by intelligence, integrity, charisma, wisdom, and political courage. Such leadership is necessary because the voters must be educated to support only intelligent policies. And, the point cannot be too emphatically stressed: only the president can educate the voters. For several reasons, education which will equip the voters to support intelligent policies cannot be accomplished in the public or private elementary and secondary schools. One, too few teachers even of the social studies are accomplished students of the problems. Also, the students are too immature to have much interest or understanding no matter how capable. the teachers might be. Third, most of our current adult population, uneducated by the kind of president we need, would oppose effective teaching in these schools. Nor can the colleges and universities educate the voters in vital public matters. Too few of the eligible voters go to college. Moreover, relatively few college students do significant work in history, political science, and economics. Third, the evidence is that the college experience is ineffective in changing the minds of significant numbers of students. Most graduates of any college or university leave the school still cherishing the ideas and prejudices they brought from home which is precisely what their parents hope for. In short, an educator president with the requisite characteristics is necessary because only he can command the attention of all the voters. Only he has sufficient clout to persuade the voters to choose intelligent policies. In practice, the presidency is a “bully pulpit” from which to bamboozle the voters. For the democracy to prosper, it must become a lectern from which the voters can learn to support wise policies. In an earlier, simpler, less-crowded world we did not need to be so careful. Obviously, democracies seldom come up with educator presidents. In a kind of parenthesis: our chances of finding educator presidents would likely be just as good with an hereditary presidency. At any rate, an hereditary president could go against public opinion without fear of losing the next election for himself and his party. Part of the difficulty of getting an educator president is that our traditions in political campaigning discourage civilized people from exposing themselves to the cheapen ing inevitable in a successful presidential campaign. Since presidential campaigns attract such large audiences, it is clear that the education we get from presidents comes largely from the campaigns in which the voters are confirmed in their ignorance by demagogic, flag-waving, Willie Horton types of appeals which worked so well for President Bush. It is fatal for a candidate to discuss either the problems which must be solved or the policies which will solve them. Thus, even a person of intelligence, integrity, wisdom, and physical courage like President Bush is trapped by the terms of his election campaign. He is most unlikely to find the political courage to become the educator president we must have to deal with the staggering problems we face. This is not a politically partisan diatribe against President Bush and the Republican Party. The Democrats have done the same kinds of things although not so well here of late. The Bush campaign is the best example both because it was so effective and because it is recent enough that voters may remember it. Thus we have arrived at the chicken-and-egg dilemma: How do we get the requisite educator president until we get voters educated to demand serious campaigning? President Bush showed that he understands the problem somewhat when he tried, after assuming office, to dismiss his disgraceful performance during the campaign by saying, “That [the campaign] was politics; this [exercising the power of the Presidency] is governing.” But his performance as a politician seems to prevent him from becoming a statesman. The means have determined the end. Perhaps the only solution is to find a candidate with the requisite qualities who will reluctantly and consciously, but not cynically, commit himself self-sacrificially to the management of poll-takers and political sharpies who will package him to please the gullible voters. He would make himself say and do all the stupid, contemptible things necessary to be elected. would get on television and admit that he had deliberately misled the voters. He would describe our problems and announce wise policies which the facts of life prevented him from discussing in the campaign. After this, the agonizing question would be: How long could all our security forces save him from assassination in this land populated by so many gun worshippers? Ralph L. Lynn is Professor Emeritus of History, Baylor University. And American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES P.O. IRA 201I, WACO. TOM 7S7O3. 17-71140110 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Bawd and Chief Executive Officer 16 JULY 13, 1990
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