George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln—why are they on Mount Rushmore?  Was it perhaps because their leadership was visionary and they were able to persuade America to live life in crescendo?  George Washington is permanently emblazoned in our minds with Emmanuel Leutze’s famous painting of him leading his troops across the Delaware River. Thomas Jefferson crafted the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, including one of the best known sentences in the English language, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Teddy Roosevelt coined the phrase “Square Deal” to describe his domestic agenda, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair share under his policies. As an outdoorsman and naturalist, he promoted the conservation movement. On the world stage, Roosevelt’s policies were characterized by his slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in any field. Abraham Lincoln has consistently been voted the most effective president ever, repainting the American dream, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

The two top modern day American presidents are consistently John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.  Why?  I suggest it’s because they vividly painted a vision. John F. Kennedy is known for his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” But his big vision was to put a man on the moon.  Americans rallied to this cause, and the net result was the development of the Internet, space travel, computers, and even advanced fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Ronald Reagan was the fearless leader who challenged his Soviet rival, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Ultimately, his vision broke apart the Soviet Union and won the cold war.

We have had many presidents. The reason that very few have risen to the top of the popularity polls is leadership, which is simply getting the voters buy into a vision. And what happens when people rally for the cause?  Citizens begin to live life in crescendo with regard to this vision.

Although there are many good orators in politics today, no elected official will be measured over history as being great unless they can successfully articulate a bold vision and get their voters to get on board. Negative ad campaigns and super pacs don’t make for great leadership. Who wants to elect one candidate because the others are worse? The most successful American presidents have convinced citizens to live life in crescendo with an important cause. This is what will make America even greater in the future. I only hope that our elected officials realize this.


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