Who Will I Vote for in 2008?

Lessons from our nation's second and third presidents still resonate today.

That is a question I have been asked numerous times over the past few months and my answer has always been vague, until recently. I now answer with a definitive: "Whoever reminds me the most of John Adams and/or Thomas Jefferson at the time of the election." Neither of these men would have any chance of being elected president today, and both would be horrified at the importance of media image in today's electoral process. Yet, in my opinion, as the second and third presidents of the United States, they did more for this country than the last eight presidents combined.

Adams was a short, bald, argumentative man who fought passionately at the First and Second Continental Congresses that the colonies should declare their independence from the British. He had absolutely no concern about big business or individual popularity. While today's politician won't say a word if there is a chance it might offend a donor, a fellow politician or another government, Adams didn't care about these things; he cared about people. He cared about his family. But most of all, he cared about individual freedoms of all mankind. He felt that your place in the world should not be determined by birthright but by your contributions to society. I couldn't agree more.

Jefferson was a freckled, sandy-haired, tall individual without much ability for public speaking. He did, however, possess incredible writing skills best demonstrated when his good friend, Adams, requested that he pen the Declaration of Independence. He was also instrumental in developing the idea of a "wall of separation between church and state," clarifying the words that his friend, James Madison, wrote into the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He was the second minister to France, after Benjamin Franklin. Trouble began, however, in 1792 when Alexander Hamilton put together the urban, commerce-oriented Federalist Party. In response, Jefferson, who believed in the rights of the several states over that of a union, founded the Democratic-Republican Party (known today as the Democratic Party). His good friend Adams, though, was a Federalist.

Although they represented different parties, I would vote for either man if he were alive today.


Adams was the first vice president under Washington and Jefferson was the second VP under Adams (losing to him by a mere three votes in 1796). As vice president, Adams once complained to his wife Abigail, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." These words are a clear instruction to me to ignore the candidates for vice president almost entirely. In 1800, they actually tied while running for president against one another—the tie was settled by the House of Representatives and Jefferson became president. These one-time close friends were now bitter rivals.

Eventually, Adams retired to his farm in Quincy, Mass., and Jefferson retired to his now-famous home in Monticello, Va., where they wrote heated letters to one another in their wisest years. Both men died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after they wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence together. Adams' final words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives," not realizing Jefferson had died just a few hours earlier.

Although they represented different parties, I would vote for either man if he were alive today. So, on November 4, I will ask myself three questions. First, is the candidate honest and wise? Adams once said about the White House, "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." Second, will this person, as president, be frugal with our hard-earned tax money? As Jefferson once said, "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned—this is the sum of good government." Finally, I'll ask if I believe that this candidate would sign his or her name to these words, as Adams and Jefferson, along with 54 other patriots, did in 1776:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

I really don't care about the age, religion, sex, race or wealth of our next president. I just want a person that is honest with our money. I want a candidate that would pledge his or her life, fortune and honor to continue America's rich history of great leaders. I will measure our candidates against two of the all-time greats, Adams and Jefferson. I will virtually ignore the candidates for vice president and then I will cast my ballot. Or, since media plays such an important part in influencing our decision, I will cast my vote for the candidate that passes the lie detector test on the popular network television show The Moment of Truth (just wishful thinking).

Kind regards,

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