For thousands of years people have struggled in their effort to determine what is true, what is truth. The ancient Romans more than two millennium ago had a Goddess Veritas. She was the Goddess of Truth and the daughter of the God Chronos – the God of Time. This seemed a natural progress. Over time truth will become apparent.
President Abraham Lincoln, who was a Republican though I think most Americans think of him as a great American President, said “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
Lincoln may have been the most visionary President we had. In addition to leading the Union in its win over the secessionist states he arranged for Land Grant Colleges, the cross-Continental Railroad and other futurist endeavors.
Think about it. A great portion of our nation’s population secedes and while you fight to re-unify the country you are thinking about the education of future generations and connecting the east and west coasts by rail.
Lincoln is a favorite of mine because he always seemed on the side of using the nation’s resources in a way compassionate (the Emancipation Proclamation, generosity to the defeated secessionists) and building (education and transportation infrastructure).
Another great American President, also a Republican, had a strong opinion about truth. President Theodore Roosevelt said in Kansas City in 1918 the following:
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefor it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right….it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”
While Roosevelt was much more wordy than Lincoln on just about any topic he nailed the need for the American people to seek the truth about their President and to hold him accountable for his honesty, good conduct or bad conduct. We are to praise the President when he does right and blame him for doing wrong.
This brings us to our current President. There are some truths that all Americans should recognize about him. They seem self-evident but sometimes it helps to restate them. If we can all agree on some of these points then perhaps we can have a conversation – however long or short – about America’s standing among its citizens and the world.
First, the current President was elected through the Electoral College and that is the system we use to select our President. Like all Presidents before him, including his predecessor, he won the Presidency fair and square. For those who like the Russian angle on this it still does not change the fact the President won.
Second, this President is neither a visionary like Lincoln nor an inspiring orator and leader like either Roosevelt. He seems more focused on a narrower vision on rolling back protections designed to protect various aspects of America. Some Americans like this vision while others do not. The large tax cut – which personally benefited me – while nice is hardly visionary.
Third, this President seems to have ignored Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim of “speak softly but carry a big stick”. This President’s maxim appears to be “speak bigly, boisterously but issue a short, mean tweet.”
When our President is a success all Americans should praise him. When he is fails we should all agree he has.
Our current system of sharing the truth through a variety of means often results in the truth being shaved in order to appeal to a niche of America. This is not unusual since the Federalist Papers and unsigned commentaries by our Founding Fathers also appealed to a niche of America. In short, this has been going on for thousands of years.
It would be a joy to read your responses and comments to this article. I encourage you to respond.
Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-321-7799.