I am by nature a very optimistic person, particularly about my country, the United States of America. However, the current state of our political leadership (a true void of leadership) leaves me angry, confused, and embarrassed. I find the current political process (regardless of party affiliation) almost surreal…in fact, it is hard to believe that what is happening is non-fiction!

My concern is that several presidential candidates (and I believe more than 28 governors) are proposing that we significantly limit, “pause”, or completely stop permitting Syrian refugees into the U.S. One presidential candidate is actually calling for the mandatory registration of all Muslim-Americans, and two others want to impose a “religious test” on refugees!! What?!! Really?!

Is this really happening?!! I thought this was the United States of America, a country in which virtually all of us are direct descendants from immigrants and refugees. Some folks had better take another look at our Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, I am deeply saddened and horrified by the terrible attacks in Paris and many other areas in the world….they are serious attacks on all of humanity. These terrorists must be stopped. However, to suggest that we should be fearful of all Syrians, and suspicious of all Muslims already in the U.S. goes against everything we stand for as a country.

I thought we learned our lesson from the terrible ways we treated Japanese Americans by placing them in internment camps during World War II. How can we be on a path to make the same mistakes 70 years later?

My “opinion” is that a true values-based political leader should carefully think through these issues and challenges in a constructive manner and focus on educating the country’s citizens.  It seems, however, that many of our politicians today are focused solely on opinion polls rather than being self-reflective, listening to all perspectives, and “doing the right thing”. If these politicians – especially those aspiring to be the next president of our country – need some inspiration (once they’re done familiarizing themselves with the Constitution), they might consider reading our first president’s thoughts on this matter in a letter he wrote to a Jewish congregation shortly after assuming the presidency:

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.”


George Washington, President of the United States of America, 1790

Values-based leaders do not peddle fear and uncertainty for their personal gains; instead, they inspire all those they interact with to reach for a higher ideal.  Tragically, the political discourse we’re witnessing today is moving our nation in the opposite direction.