By Dr. Jim Ferguson

Sometimes you realize what’s right only after seeing what’s wrong. A majority of Americans now believe our country is on the wrong track, and only party apparatchiks and the Washington “beltway boys” think otherwise. Even Hillary and Bernie say that times are tough in our country. And only the willfully uninformed and Democrat automatons can say that seven plus years of “hope and change” have been anything but a disaster.

I’ve been thinking about leadership as the election cycle drones on with denigrating rhetoric and debates ad nauseum. We need new leadership because what we’re doing isn’t working. And it is even more disturbing that Hillary speaks highly of Obama’s policies. At least ole Bernie is true to his principles of socialism.

I am a fan of the Teaching Company which offers college level courses by CD and DVD. One of the professors I most admire is Rufus Fears. Dr. Fears maintains that leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill were statesmen rather than politicians. He felt these great leaders embody four qualities: “bedrock principles, a moral compass, vision and the ability to build a consensus and achieve that vision.”

In trying to make some sense of the presidential candidates, I’ve been analyzing them with the professor’s four criteria which have stood the test of time. People may modify their principles in a given situation, but foundational principles rarely change. Recently, I heard that Justice Antonin Scalia did not try to change the minds of the liberal justices on the Supreme Court because he knew their minds were already made up. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it speaks to the fundamental principles which I have and I’ve encountered in others. Though I don’t identify with the politics of former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, I admired his steadfast adherence to his principles, at least until Obama took him for a ride on Air Force One and Kucinich changed his opinion and his vote on Obama-care.

Morality and virtue are often seen as synonyms. Morality implies conformity to established standards of right or wrong. Whereas virtue implies a “moral excellence in character.” I believe in an Absolute standard by which I judge my virtue. Our postmodern era denies an absolute standard and holds that everything is relative. If this is true, can you see how problematic it is when morality is judged by a local standard like that of  ISIS? And this is especially germane for us as we try to discern the “moral compass” of some vacillating politicians.

Being able to articulate a vision for our country is critical for a presidential candidate. Unfortunately, in the era of perverse media who function as political operatives instead of journalists, the message is manipulated in sound bites and “gotchas!” I heard recently that people remember less what someone says and more how someone made them feel. Bill Clinton’s legendary ability to connect with people made him successful. Hillary is a stark contrast. Ted Cruz is an accomplished debater. Jeb Bush is not. Cruz and Marco Rubio have articulated clear policies. Trump has not, but his populism of “Make America Great” resonates with the anger of America outside the Washington beltway. Establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush just don’t seem to understand that connection with people trumps message – at least in 2016.

Finally, will our new leader be able to gain consensus for his vision of America? Obama, had a vision to transform America. He had bedrock principles, though contrary to mine. Obama made people feel good as he read the teleprompter and scripted sermons. As a result people overlooked his policies of transference of wealth from our country to others, and from one person’s pocket to another’s to curry the favor of the latter who will then vote for Democrats because of the free stuff they offer. And Bernie even trumps Obama in this regard.

Obama did not need consensus after his election in 2008 because Democrats controlled the House and the Senate. And he still controlled the Senate until 2014. Many believe that the country is in a mess not just because of the liberalism of Democrats, but because Republicans refused to challenge Obama’s policies over the last seven years.

My professional skill set is an ability to sift through complex medical information, distill the information into salient points and prioritize issues. But that’s not enough. Doctors have to be able to make decisions and explain options and choices to people because patients assume doctors have medical expertise and expect them to be the leader in a medical partnership. An example of leadership is when patients are conflicted and indecision is making them miserable. Many times I’ve led and encouraged patients to make a tough decision and end their anguishing over the issue. Sometimes you just have to jump right or left to get off the proverbial middle of the fence.

Life is full of tough choices, and no one escapes good and bad decisions. However, we are supposed to learn from our successes and our failures. A friend of mine voted for Obama the second time with the “hopes he would do better.” He didn’t.  Obama’s liberalism has made us unsafe, unsuccessful, increasingly dependent on the government and has stoked the fires of racism. And now we have the two  “old” Democrat presidential candidates trying to outdo each other with promises of  “free stuff” for everyone, and demanding we surrender more and more control of “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Alternatively, we have the  bombastic Republican street fighter, another Bush, Republican candidates in name only (RINOs) or those who offer youth and a new direction.

The choice is ours and the future of our nation rests upon our decision. Never in my lifetime has the choice for a president had such importance. Never has such stark policy contrasts existed between the two parties and their candidates. Our children’s future hangs in the balance. Get informed and choose wisely.