Complete Honesty, Unquestionable Integrity

Published: December 12, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Digging deeper into the write-in responses from the Capps/Zogby Poll entitled, What Americans Expect from the Next President and Congress, I was struck by the direct, sometimes blunt language and emotion from Americans.

In response to what qualities the country needs most from the next president, most offered a list of traits, many more took the time to put forth their own advice to President-elect Obama:

“Conservative ideals; intestinal fortitude”

“Caring for the backbone of this country – the poor and middle class”

“Courage to stick with the founding principles; ability to inspire the nation to follow.”

“Intelligence and enough confidence in himself to listen to people who know more about a subject than he does.”

“…partners with the People to solve issues.”

“…Calm intelligence… thoughtful and pragmatic… country first, party second…  transparent… bipartisan… compassion, trustworthiness… determination, diplomacy… confident leadership… faith and conciliation… Godly wisdom, ethical behavior…”

“Do what you say you ARE GOING TO DO!”

When it came to looking at the most important actions people would like to see accomplished by the next president and Congress, responses ranged from concern to anger to optimism:

“President: Building up our relationship with our allies so that we can talk to our enemies from a place of strength.  Congress: ensuring oversight of banking/finance and restoring and making transparent the bidding by the military industrial complex”

“Restore economic conditions; Withdraw from Iraq…”

“Stop bailing out companies”

“Fire Barney Frank. Fire Chris Dodd”

“Implement more regulation on the financial markets. They’ve proven that they cannot self regulate”

“Fix the healthcare issues – availability for all, and prescription drug costs.”

“Cut reams of wasteful governmental spending”

“No new taxes.”

“Good paying jobs with good benefits! Alternative fuels; govern wisely”

Give the country hope and improve our image around the world


In reading through more than 10,000 responses, I came away with a few fundamental conclusions.

People want to believe in their elected leaders again.  They want to believe that Senators and Representatives, Republicans and Democrats will earnestly and honestly work together.  They want to believe in a Washington that will put the people’s interests ahead of special interests.  They want an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And they want the kind of leadership that will work to restore America’s tarnished image.

Most of all, people want to believe in the highest and best qualities of our elected leaders.  They know it’s never going to be perfect, but they also know that each of these men and women can and should strive harder to live up to the words of what one individual simply called, “complete honesty, unquestionable integrity.”

The American people need to believe that… now, more than ever.


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