If President Donald Trump ever wearies of the polarization and the pettiness, the insults and investigations, he need only turn his gaze toward Rushmore to lift our politics to a higher plane.
The four great presidents depicted on that South Dakota mountainside exemplify four valuable qualities that could help heal today’s punishing, take-no-prisoners politics and promote any sincere effort to “make America great again.”
The first president personified the attribute of dignity, which flowed directly from the impact of his physical presence. In 1776, an 18-year-old officer named James Monroe (who went on to become the fifth president) reported that the recently appointed general displayed “a deportment so firm, so dignified, but yet so modest and composed, I have never seen in any other person.”
Another colleague, John Adams, praised Washington’s “gift of silence”: The first president listened respectfully to all opinions and positioned himself above the fray in even the most spirited disputes. He always understood that the president counted as the only official elected to represent all citizens, in every state, and of every inclination….