Grassroot Voices: A Presidential Dream

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For those struggling with election fatigue (and we’ve barely even started), you may find much to ponder in this brief column by Richard Rowland, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii:

A Dream: President Who?  And will it be Ego or Mission?

I had a dream last night. Someone was elected President of the USA. For some reason, I could not capture in my brain a specific person, except it was plain the newly elected President was male.


On TV, his campaign headquarters in Washington, DC was awash with enthusiastic, noisy, happy backers. You could not hear anything but roaring noise.

They awaited his arrival. And waited. And waited.

Then he appeared at the front of the hall and started making his way through the crowd. He was courteous and shook lots of hands; polite but kind of serious. He did politely smile from time to time as he responded to questions and comments but he was plainly subdued and strangely focused elsewhere as well as right there. Finally he was at the podium on the stage. It got quieter. He just stood there, waiting patiently. It got quieter. He waited. Then there was dead silence and he said in a conversational but firm voice “Hello friends. Thank you so very much for your support. You and others have called me to serve our nation. I deeply appreciate that confidence in me and I intend to serve to the very best of my abilities. In doing that, I have supreme and complete confidence in you and the rest of the American people.” .

Then there was a long pause while he looked at the crowd. Finally, he said “You appear to be joyous and I am pleased you are. But, although not unhappy, I am soberly focused on the new duty you have so graciously given me. We have a mountain of serious and important work ahead. We must be intent on getting it done and done well. Every one of us need to be at our very best and that, of course, includes me. So, I am going from here to bed for a good night’s sleep and I urge you to do the same. Tomorrow starts some heavy, heavy but productive work. Thank you in advance for your help which will include some very frequent plain talk with elected representatives from your home districts.”

The President-elect then left the stage and the crowd, much quieter and now focused, made way for him as he went through the crowd and out the door.

Right then, I woke. My first thought was, wow, that was different. Then I thought; what was different? Well, in a word, attitude. In just a few words he revealed that he was not centered on “winning” something for his ego, but instead doing it with duty in mind, something which might be unpleasant and personally unrewarding, but necessary. My next thought was George Washington, a farmer who became a successful General and twice President, all three times reluctantly after being convinced by others that he was genuinely needed to serve his people. He did not celebrate. He wasted no time on joy, since he had none to begin with. His response to winning a war that “could not be won” was to resign his commission and return to his farm where he refused to be a “general”, addressing himself as a farmer. He was happy there. Later, after serving two terms as President, Washington politely but firmly rejected anguished pleas that he should become President for life. Back to his farm he went to live out his remaining days where he “belonged”. I’ll bet no one around there ever dared to call him “Honorable George Washington” but that he welcomed “Citizen George Washington” as a way to introduce him.

The just elected President I dreamed about was certainly not George Washington, but he did have duty, honor, country in mind instead of just his honorable self. I do not know who I will vote for in the coming election but you better believe I will be looking for a candidate that will act mature and somewhat Washington-like, leaving his or her ego inert on a shelf at home or elsewhere out of sight. To hell with joy, I want serious action toward “mission impossible” with the future of the people of our nation in mind.

It is hoped that this provided food for thought and I would appreciate knowing what you think.