THROUGH THE FIRE: The Lesson

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By TRISHA MURAKAWA

In a few short weeks, Americans will elect a president to serve for the next four years. As a lesson to my children, throughout the last year, I’ve been forcing them to pay attention to the presidential campaign. I want to teach them to understand, even on a very cursory level, the candidates’ proposed policies and solutions to the nation and the world’s problems.

My intent in all this was to teach them a sense of what civic duty, democracy and social responsibility are so they can learn how to make prudent decisions for themselves and to choose wisely when voting about policies that will affect their lives and their future.

Unfortunately, the outcome of this lesson is not working out. Rather, it has been more entertainment for them and outrage for me. A sampling of this through statements made by Gov. Mitt Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, include:

• “I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.” — Mitt Romney

• “I should tell my story. I’m unemployed.” — Mitt Romney in Florida to an audience of unemployed people

• “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” – Mitt Romney

• “I voted to send people to war.” — Paul Ryan, responding during an August 2012 Fox News interview to demonstrate his foreign policy credentials.

• “We haven’t run the numbers of that specific plan.” — Paul Ryan, responding during an August 2012 Fox News interview about how the Romney plan would balance the budget.

• “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” — Mitt Romney, who later admitted this was a lie, and then later admitted his father never marched with the slain civil rights leader.

Peggy Noonan may be right in her assertions that her party nominee’s campaign is falling apart. Yes, of course, every candidate has moments of embarrassment and big mistakes are made, but I cannot remember when this has occurred so frequently (unless you discount the last presidential election, when the qualified and respected Republican presidential nominee was overshadowed by the charisma but stupidity of his running mate).

It seems that there are so many more stupid, audacious and insensitive examples of the Romney/Ryan campaign, but I am not writing about that.

My point is the assertion that one person, Mitt Romney, could be so unbelievably ambitious that he would lie — he would say and do anything to get elected and not even realize he is offensive, out of touch with the American people or even lying. And further, that this blind ambition for the presidency and his arrogance prevents him from being true about his genuine political beliefs so he could demonstrate to people like me that I could possibly feel comfortable with him leading our nation as the president.

The intended lesson to my kids about how to educate themselves, how to participate in democracy and learn one way to fulfill their citizenship has turned into a lesson about how uncontrolled selfish behavior and ruthless ambition can lead you down a path of failure.

I hope they will one day look back on this election critically and learn that to be a good and effective leader, you need at least some semblance of moral character. Empty rhetoric about running a business does not qualify a person to lead a large and complex nation like ours.

Respect, responsibility, integrity, courage, strength, conscience, tolerance and savvy are only some of the requirements of good leadership, and it is most unfortunate that the Romney/Ryan campaign has not demonstrated any of these qualities thus far.

There are only a few weeks left before the election, and there is the possibility that these values can come forth in the Romney/Ryan campaign, but I am doubtful.

Last weekend during an interview with the news hour show “60 Minutes,” when asked how people without health insurance should address their health-care needs, Romney responded, “Go to the emergency room.”

May all of us learn from this election.

Trisha Murakawa is a strategic communications and public affairs consultant based in Redondo Beach. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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