Voters must be proactive in selecting future leaders

As this dreadful presidential election season winds down, many are wondering if they want to see another election. But it will happen. No matter who you support or who wins, I truly believe our system of government is strong enough to weather whatever we see as the worst that can happen.

That does not mean I am without fear. Each candidate presents challenges to our feeling safe and secure. And we will be required to practice vigilance like we have never done before as the winning candidate governs.

And this vigilance will be good practice. As I noted in a past column I am one of those at fault, along with millions of other Americans, for not taking seriously the idea Donald Trump could be elected president. As the general election has ground on, I also have to say I did not see that Hillary Clinton could present so many negatives to the American people. And I have to take some of the blame for not being vigilant in learning all I could about each candidate from the minute each of them declared their candidacy for president of the United States.

What do I mean by vigilance? In political terms, vigilance means knowing all I can about a candidate. As soon as I learn a person is running for office, I need to read any biographical information about the person. I need to hear what he or she has to say on issues important to me. And I need to take his or her candidacy seriously from the very beginning.

And my vigilance needs to begin before the major parties or other parties declare their candidates for the presidency. I need to learn what characteristics I would like to see in a president in 2020. And then I need to work to find people who are in a position to run for president who embody those characteristics. I need to learn if that person is at all interested in running for president.

This seems a bold declaration. Who am I to suggest who should run for president? But the major parties have not done a particularly good job of this over the last several election cycles. And the minor party candidates have also been unimpressive to me.

So how do I go about this gargantuan task? I already have some people in mind. So I need to watch her public speeches and read his policy statements to see if the person voices any desire to run for office. I also need to be vigilant for any information that would change my mind about my desire to support this person. I need to be vigilant.

If the person appears to be considering a run for the White House, I need to let that person know I support that idea. If that person shows no desire to run, I need to let that person know I would like to see that happen. If the person is privately considering running, hearing from enough people could encourage the person to consider a run. If the person is not considering a run, perhaps hearing from enough people will spur that idea.

I realize this is thinking way outside the box. But we cannot have too many more elections like this one. We can no longer be passive participants in who gets chosen to run for the most important office in the country. The parties seem incapable of finding people we can feel confident in and who excite us. If we want the same poor choices, we simply need to sit back and wait for the parties to select our candidates. Or we can become vigilant from before the election cycle begins and do what we can to find candidates we desire.

Jim Matthews is a long-time resident of Greenfield. You may share your comments at