When our Country was formed, our founders wanted to make sure that we would be free from the tyrannical rule of a king, but they were also wise enough to see that the Romans Republic and the Athenians Democracy had problems in and of themselves. So, our founding fathers formed our government with great, painstaking care so that we might enjoy the freedoms we now have. They knew we would need a leader, but that leader must be held accountable and must not gain too much power. George Washington, who was unanimously chosen as our first president, set an example for all of the following presidents. He sought no power and prestige and he retired after two terms. His goal was to lead and help the American people. He served his country and won the respect of his countrymen and even the respect of the king of England. What he did not do, was bring a list of ideas and promises for the American people. He served with upmost humility that his country still honors him for.
John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I can’t help but think of this verse whenever I think of presidents in general. The principle of this verse, laying down your life for others, is so strong and yet so lacking in many of our leaders. When I studied the life of James Polk, I was so struck by how hard he worked and served our nation. He only served one term in office, he knew what he needed to accomplish and he worked endlessly to fulfill all he had set out to do. Three months after retiring he died. This man gave his life for his country. He had goals, but they were not for personal gain, they were for the good of our country and he gave all that he had to make sure he accomplished that.
Sadly, James Polk was one man, just as George Washington was one man, but the ideals and the principles that men like these left us with can continue on. Perhaps if people would have a “do unto others” mindset, government would not become so messed up. As Jefferson Smith said in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!” And maybe that’s just it. We just need to see those principles again. You see, in that movie Mr. Smith wasn’t a top guy. He was just a newly elected senator who wanted to help others in our country – namely, boys. He wasn’t there for personal gain, and in the end he won simply because of principle. Mr. Smith was a leader. Though small in comparison to the other experienced senators, he stood out because he wanted to serve our country.
Any man can say he wants to serve our country, but it takes a man of principle to truly step out and serve. An eloquent tongue and a message of promises will fool many, but the wise will look past these outward frivolities and recognize whether or not this man has principle. Our Nation needs men with principle, men who will stand alone and fight for what is right and good. Presidents that go down in history are the ones who fought for a cause bigger and greater than they, and they fought tirelessly. Let us not forget their examples, because it was what these men fought for and how they fought that makes them great. Look to the great men of the past, and become great men for the future.