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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023


This fall, there is a great deal of talk about character. “One of the most important virtues of the American character is our ability to approach the complexities that life presents us with common sense and decency,” were the words recently spoken by a man with whom I rarely agree. But on this point, House Democrat Leader Richard Gephardt couldn’t be more right. There is such a thing as an American character. And in politics and government, as in everyday life, the quality of character does count, despite what some people may say or believe. Character counts in our state and national leaders, the men and women we elect to represent us in the halls of government. The political contract we make with our elected officials is based on our trust that positions they take on tough campaign issues today will match their governmental decision-making tomorrow. Californians have a right to know that the people they elect to represent them will pursue their honest best judgement, not pander to polls or special interests. Why? Because people elect leaders based upon their campaign promises their word. The truest measure of a person’s worth is the strength of his or her word. And an examination of character allows us to determine whether our leaders can be trusted by their word. But most importantly, an examination of character allows us to determine who or what our leaders themselves trust most the people they represent or the government. The next governor will appoint the judges who will be deciding business, consumer and criminal law through 2020 or longer. Judges are, by definition and tradition, the men and women who make precedent-setting decisions based on the rule of law, even when they are tough personal choices. Families and community institutions, like schools and churches, are the most powerful and influential guides in our lives. If our chief executive believes bureaucracy to be more trustworthy than the family, he will be reluctant to reform such things as taxes and education toward the goal of empowering the family. This is when character counts. Whether it was five minutes ago, five hours ago, five months ago, or 20 years ago, where a person stands on any important issue means everything, because character is about standing up for what you believe when it’s not the easy thing to do. It’s about remaining steadfast about that which you believe at heart. It’s about doing what’s right when no one is looking. This is when character counts. GEORGE DEUKMEJIAN Former California Governor

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