Letters

Theodore Roosevelt expressed standard of leadership that stands today

Posted: Feb. 28, 2020 4:20 pm

To The Herald-Whig:

Last week I've been catching up on reading a book given to me at Christmas by my wife that was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I thought my fellow readers would enjoy learning of this book, titled "Leadership in a Turbulent Time." It's part biography, history lesson, psychological study and soap opera comparing and contrasting the very different presidencies, lives and times of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

One Teddy Roosevelt quote jumped off the page and sends a very profound yet down-to-earth message that reasonable people of good will, in this day and age, must take to heart. It was uttered over 100 years ago by T.R., then in his mid-20s, regarding his vision of leadership -- a kind of personal "gut check." It reads: "No man is superior, unless it was by merit, and no man is inferior, unless by his demerit."

Except for the gender-specific language (a linguistic product of its era), the concept articulated in the quote could have been written yesterday. It rings loud and clear in contemporary times, linking leadership quality to America's continuing greatness.

In order to make informed choices about representative leadership in government at all levels, responsible ballot-casting citizens need clear evidence of both character and competence in candidates (read: merit) that goes well beyond attention seeking juvenile swagger, capricious and self-serving decision making, perpetual rancor, "alternative facts" and the ability to spend other people's money at will (read: demerit).

Somewhere among 350-plus million Americans, there must be/are individuals among us who meet the standard for leadership expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Bill Camphouse

Perry, Ill.