As the time arrives for deciding who our next president will be, I would suggest that there are really two types of candidates. We have what might be called the outside-in candidate or, alternatively, the inside-out candidate. John Kerry would be the former and George Bush would be the latter.
The starting point for the inside-out candidate is a set of principles. The proposals he makes, the analysis to problems that he provides, reflects those principles. In the case of George Bush, those principles would be traditional values of right and wrong and a sense that the key to a free society is personal ownership, empowerment and responsibility. The reality on the outside reflects the starting point on the inside. The quality of individual lives, the nature of the society in which we live, indeed the world in which we live, is the result of individuals using these principles in engaging day-to-day problems of life. Humans are causes rather than results.
The approach of the outside-in candidate is the opposite. Individual human lives, in this take on the world, are results rather than causes. This candidate's starting point for analyzing problems and proposing solutions are external circumstances and conditions. This approach empowers the candidate, the politician, rather than the individual. This candidate sees our society as a social engineering problem, rather than the collective result of individual moral and ethical choices, and the politician is the chief engineer.
If we think of the founders of our free country, I believe we will find inside-out leaders rather than the outside-in variety. The Declaration of Independence defines the starting point for thinking about our country and reflects the take on the world of the men who drafted it. We find a statement of principles and a sense that a free society begins with the individual. We are a nation under God with free individuals endowed by our creator with rights. There is no statement of desired results or social outcomes. We have only a declaration of principles and faith that when individuals are free and personally embrace these principles, we produce the best results for each individual and for our society as a whole.
The outside-in candidate is often attractive because of the natural appeal to think that someone has the solutions to our problems. It's a fact of our lives that often the last place we want to look for answers is in the mirror. Ambitious politicians are often happy to oblige and take control of our lives.