An important decision

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

As Americans head to the polls to cast their votes on Super Tuesday, I am deeply concerned about the future of our country.

America's system of democracy is based on the idea that all people are entitled to certain freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Our nation's history is imperfect; only a fool would suggest otherwise. Slavery existed on American soil for more than four centuries. Women have possessed the right to vote in the United States for less than 100 years. Political strife has been the rule rather than the exception in American history, yet our nation has made tremendous strides thanks in large part to a system that allows and encourages opposing views and civil discourse.

The key word there is civil.

Sometime over the past two decades, civility in American politics went out the window. Rather than talk about substantive policy issues, presidential candidates today largely focus on personal insults and mud-slinging. Shock value has become more important than productive ideas. Statesmanship seems to have become a lost art as candidates scramble for Twitter followers and sound bites on the network news.

For all practical purposes, there are five candidates still standing with a legitimate chance at becoming the next president of the United States. Some of those candidates, clearly, are in better position than others to gain their respective party's nomination and ultimately win a general election in November. One of these five people will be the 45th president of the United States.

What happens next? That person will actually have to lead our country. He or she will be commander in chief of the United States armed forces. He or she will have to interact with other world leaders. He or she will play a key role in shaping our foreign policy. He or she will decide, in large part, if and when we go to war. He or she will play a key role in the American economy. He or she will be the most powerful individual in the world.

Should we choose our next president based on the fact that he or she can come up with the most clever insult? Should we choose our next president because he or she can post the most audacious tweet? Should we choose our next president because he or she can huff and puff like a third-grade playground bully?

The choice is ours. It is yours and mine. But the ramifications will affect our children and our grandchildren.

We must choose wisely. If we don't, we will all be sorry.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address in