American political races always seem to fall short of the ideals they embody. But what happens when coming to know a candidate’s character gives way in a contest with the candidate’s persona? Is it more ‘honest’ to be observed while openly creating a unique persona through mainstream and social media than to be the ‘best of breed’ in the old-time virtues of experience, civility, wisdom, temperance, grace? If the idea of character is withering away, what happens to the idea of self or of soul? Can today’s candidate inspire a generation to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”?
Betty Sue Flowers, PhD, is a professor emeritus and former director of the Johnson Presidential Library. She has moderated executive seminars at the Aspen Institute, consulted for NASA, CIA, and the US Navy. Her publications include four television tie-in books in collaboration with Bill Moyers, among them, the best-selling Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. In addition to two collections of poetry her books include Browning and the Modern Tradition, Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, and as editor, Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems in the Penguin English Poets series.