A statesman is he who thinks in the future generations, and a politician is he who thinks in the upcoming elections. – Abraham Lincoln

Politics has always fascinated me. So much in fact, I taught the subject for seventeen years, helped guide some campaigns, and even toyed with running for office. But, the wheels came off that toy years ago. Today, I prefer to listen, analyze, process, and occasionally publish articles like this one, Crossing the Bridge to Progress.

Today’s article is about an ever-growing problem in our political world, which if not righted, could bring our political system crashing upon a rocky shore. Through my eyes, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving real societal progress is the proliferation of politicians and the decline of statesman.

Too often, especially in our current governmental climate, those we elect lose sight of why we chose them. As first-year members, many, if not most, fall victim to party politics. They become indebted to the party which supported them and/or the powerful, wealthy, and influential individuals who guided them. The latter is so common in non-partisan elections.

In partisan elections, those supported by a specific party, as in our case the Republican or Democratic party, it takes a true statesman to hold strong to his/her core values, while under the weight from senior lawmakers pressuring them to walk the (party) line. “Stand with us or you will perish alone.” – Stephen Gray

I assume most American voters chose a candidate who best represents their own personal values and visions – hopefully, after much reading and contemplation. And, with this choice, we realize our chosen candidate will be forced to make frequent compromises during that journey toward real progress. However, many times, politicians find themselves building bridges between parties that have no center span and no room for compromise. They may walk to the center of the bridge, yet are unable to cross to the other side. One possible solution to this problematic condition would be term limits for all elected positions – an environment which encouraging statesmanship and discourages politicians. Personally, I am a staunch supporter of term limits for all elected positions. But, that is a topic for another article.

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With each passing day, we inch closer and closer to elections at all levels. And, we as Americans must always remember: We are a republic. A government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercising power according to the rule of law. What we need and deserve are statesmen, not politicians. I can never support someone who sells out his/her values to the highest bidder, or to secure a future election.

I want bridge builders and those willing to walk to the center, shake hands with the other side, and crossover if necessary.

I want candidates who promise only their commitment and involvement. Not promises I know cannot be fulfilled.

I want candidates who do not fear the wrath of the party elders. Ones who embrace and support the will of the people.

I want a candidate who is an intellectual and an articulate orator. One with morals and integrity.

I want a candidate who works for unification and does not accept division.

There are bridges spanning the deepest and widest rivers in this great country. All we need is more people willing to cross those bridges, in the name of progress.

Quite simply, I want statesmen – not politicians.

Now, the issue at hand: What do you want?

Until we meet again,

Michael