Saturday Column: ‘16 presidential election is political fork in the road

This weekend, Americans celebrate Independence Day.

As the New York Times Almanac notes, “The most important U.S. holiday, Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, an event that marked America’s birth as a free nation. The holiday was first observed in 1777 and it is celebrated with fireworks, parades and oratory.”

It is ironic, or maybe it’s by design, that, every four years, July 4 rolls around just a few weeks before Democrats and Republicans gather for their presidential nominating conventions. Then, 15 or 16 weeks later, American citizens have the privilege and responsibility of selecting an individual to move into the world’s most powerful elective office, the presidency of the United States.

So, in addition to the fireworks, parades and oratory, it would seem this is an ideal time for all citizens to think about their country, its past, the freedoms and opportunities Americans enjoy, Uncle Sam’s role in past and present world affairs and preserving the safety and protection of this country and its citizens.

Do the majority of Americans give sufficient thought to the importance of a presidential election and whom they elect to lead the country for the next four years? Do they really stop and think about what’s best for this country?

It’s fun to watch the fireworks, but, at some time, serious thought should be given to which presidential candidate is best for this country if it is to maintain the values, practices, expectations and moral character that have made this country great, actually exceptional.

Although nothing is certain or guaranteed about the outcome of the two national conventions, it seems voters will have two very different individuals seeking the presidency. One is a professional politician; one is a novice in elective politics. One has a record in public office and one in business. One is the first woman to lead her party’s national ticket, and the other is one of the few businessmen to receive his party’s nomination for president.

The current race is bringing out all the negatives or positives about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The campaign is — and probably will become even more — mean, personal, dirty or raw. The element of fear will be used by both parties, with the candidates or their helpers telling voters what may, or is sure to, happen if their opponent should be elected president.

It is this writer’s opinion that telling the truth is terribly important for individuals in any field of activity or personal behavior, but particularly for those who serve in this country’s highest elective office.

Once a person tells a lie, how can that individual be trusted to tell the truth on any serious or controversial matter? Honesty should be the most important factor for whoever sits in the president’s office, maybe even more important than ability. Hopefully, a person who makes honesty a top priority would surround himself or herself with individuals with talent, honesty and a commitment to do what is best for the country.

Unfortunately, Clinton’s No. 1 reputation or characterization among U.S. voters is dishonesty and/or that she lies. If that’s the case, and history shows that in her 20 to 30 years in politics, she has lied and been less than honest on many occasions, will voters ask themselves if they can trust her if she should be elected? Again, once a person lies, and often gets by with it, how can that individual be believed to be telling the truth and leveling with the public?

The preliminary battles are over, and now, the main attraction is about to begin — 18 weeks to the Nov. 8 election.

It is a tremendously important election, as are all presidential elections, but this one represents a true political fork in the road. One path leads to a continuation of the Obama philosophy of greater government involvement in the lives of all Americans, and the other emphasizes less government intervention and greater emphasis on free enterprise and opportunity for all Americans.

Hopefully, this July Fourth weekend will cause Americans to take the time to give at least a little serious thought to the importance of who best to serve as president — in addition to enjoying fireworks, parades and oratory.