There’s a reason why we should hold our elected officials to a higher standard. Democracy is a messy, unorganized, and inefficient way to govern, but it would be wrong to think the system cannot produce greatness. It will always be surrounded by ego-hungry people, but its greatness is seen through those who rise above the spectacle. 

While the circus in Washington goes on, it’s important to define what this higher standard is and remember it when we step into the ballot box. I believe our elected leaders need to show a healthy mix of intellectual curiosity and sense of moral imperative. We need leaders who epitomize Plato’s philosopher king, those with a love of knowledge. I’m not saying every leader needs to come from the Ivy League; rather they must have a desire to see the world outside of politics. 

But our elected leaders shouldn’t solely be intellectuals. They must possess a strong moral compass that makes them allergic to the lures of power. Approaching politics through morality means advocating for policy that is for the greater good, even if it’s politically risky. 

If our elected officials hold both intellectual curiosity and a moral grounding, they can see through the messiness of American democracy and elevate the discourse from one of winning an election to one of seizing an era. 

As we watch the Democratic primary play out, let’s see who’s able to pass this test.

Jimmy Herdegen 

River Forest 

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