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Statesman: a wise, skillful, and respected political leader, well-versed in the principles and art of government.
When I think of statesmanship, I think of historical figures like the founding fathers, John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill. I know we could expand that list considerably, but why is it that when we think of statesman, no one from the present day comes to mind? Has the word become archaic or do we paint all politicians with a broad brush of dark colors not consistent with the word statesmanship?
Politics around the globe seems to be a dirty business. Good people are grouped with those that might be less admirable. It takes someone with a strong sense of conviction or selfish ambition to enter politics today, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two, but I do believe that there are statesman among them, and we should look for them and look out for them, because they pay a heavy toll to participate in the process of running for office and fighting for what they believe in.
The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship, a non-partisan interdenominational evangelical outreach to our nation’s leaders and their staff, is located in Washington D.C. to minister to those on Capitol Hill and encourage and fortify Christian Statesmanship within the halls of government. I like their definition of a statesman:
“One whose public and private conduct is guided by a bedrock set of principles that will not be compromised for personal or political gain. Such a person rises above mere partisan politics and makes the overall welfare of a nation his or her first priority.”
Hillsdale College has a graduate school of statesmanship to train students in first principles, growing future statesman. They focus not only on teaching the classical roots, but also the roots of contemporary political thought while helping students understand the centrality of ethics in politics. Perhaps the concept of statesmanship won’t disappear from our lexicon.
Do you have anyone you think of as a statesman, or are you too prone to see only the negative in politics?
Is it worth looking for statesman in the halls of government, or should we just give up on that?
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