What would you say if you asked a presidential candidate, “Sir, what makes you think you’re the best man for this job?”

And he said, “Well, I’m not sure that I am the best man. But I’ll give it my best shot.”

Now, that’s something you rarely hear, during a presidential campaign. There are a lot of promises made, and many lofty ideals thrown around. Frankly, there is a lot of bragging, by each candidate.

“If you elect me, the world will be a better place . . .”

“Elect me, and you will sleep better at night . . .”

“Vote for me, and your children will be safer . . .”

“Put me in the White House, and I’ll solve all your money problems, and all your health insurance problems, and all your education problems . . .”

And by making such promises, each candidate is actually insulting his or her opponent. “Don’t vote for so-and-so, or you’ll be sorry. So-and-so will never run this country as well as I will.”

I know that is part of the job, to brag, and to put the opposition down. To show self confidence, and to convince voters to place their confidence in you. But honestly, I don’t know if I could make such promises, under any circumstances. It kind of embarrasses me, just to think about it. There is no doubt in my mind that, if I promised to make everyone’s lives better, I would fall flat on my face. I guess that’s one of the many reasons I’ll never run for president.

But once upon a time, presidential campaigns in this country were very different than they are today. Once, in a long ago world, presidential candidates were expected to be modest. Humble. Gentlemen.

Prior to 1860, if a candidate campaigned for himself, it was considered the height of egotistical rudeness. The candidate was expected to remain quiet, and to let others do his campaigning for him. I kind of like that idea.

In the election of 1860, a man named Stephen Douglas was the Democratic candidate for president. Though small in stature, he was considered to be a political giant. He had served in the Senate, and had been around all the big wigs for years. Some might have considered him to be unbeatable.

But he ran against a quiet, humble man by the name of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had gained some serious attention during a series of seven debates against Douglas, a couple of years prior to the election. I guess Douglas got a little nervous, and felt he needed to secure some votes. He wasn’t supposed to campaign for himself – that would have been improper. So instead, he scheduled a trip to see his mother. And he went the long way around the country, on his way to her home. He scheduled many stops along the way, and made speeches and visited political rallies at every stop. But of course, when asked about his actions, he said he was merely on a trip to visit his mother.

Well, you can just imagine what the Republicans thought about his little trip. Before long, they printed a flyer. A missing persons notice, actually. It read: “A Boy Lost! Left Washington, D.C. some time in July to go home to his mother. He has not yet reached his mother, who is very anxious about him. He has been seen in Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, and at a clambake in Rhode Island. …He is about five feet nothing in height and about the same in diameter the other way. He has a red face, short legs, and a large belly. Answers to the name of Little Giant, talks a great deal, very loud, always about himself…”

I don’t have to tell you the rest of the story. Votes were cast on Election Day, and The Pony Express delivered election results around the country. The humble Abe Lincoln had won the election. His modest, gentle nature served him well, and he went on to be one of the greatest presidents our country has ever known.

I don’t know when we began to value Hollywood star power over simple, honest-to-goodness character. But I do know that, no matter which party we are rooting for, we want our candidate to look good on camera. We want him or her to wear a sparkly smile and offer shiny promises. There’s really no way anybody can make it all the way to the White House if they aren’t willing to brag a little.

But I think I like the old way of doing things. I like the idea of finding a simple, humble, wise man or woman, and letting him or her continue about his or her simple, wise way of doing things, while the rest of us convince each other which guy or gal would serve us best. I like the idea of letting the candidate’s actions speak louder than his promises.

Honest. Meek. Wise. Humble. That’s the kind of person I want to be my president. I honestly don’t know if that person even exists in our world anymore. And if he does, I’m not sure any of us would even notice him.

Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

6 Responses to Campaigning

  1. October 31, 2008 #

    Is there any other way to get your message to more people? I absolutely LOVE this post. LOVE IT.

  2. October 31, 2008 #

    Thanks, Aleta. Feel free to link to it, or use the post as a guest post on your blog! 😉

  3. October 31, 2008 #

    Renae, what a great idea — letting others do the candidate’s campaigning! Also loved the history lesson — especially the notice the Repubicans put out:) Had never heard that story before. Thanks for sharing!

  4. October 31, 2008 #

    Hi Cheryl! Yeah, I thought that was pretty funny. 😉

  5. November 3, 2008 #

    I really love this, Renae! I had never heard that story, either. What a great verse for the end, too.

  6. November 3, 2008 #

    Thanks, Jeanette!

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