Washington teacher Mandy Manning was recognized by Pres. Donald Trump as 2018 National Teacher of the Year at a White House ceremony on May 2. Manning teaches refugee and immigrant children at the Newcomer Center of Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane.
During the ceremony, Manning handed the president a packet of 45 letters from her students. One letter was written by a female student from Rwanda, who said Trump serves as “a role model.” She expressed hope he would “take care” with his words because they “have a lot of weight.”
Is it fair to ask our president to set a high standard of behavior for our children and grandchildren? Should he have to act with honesty and decency as a role model? George Washington and Abraham Lincoln certainly did and have been revered over the years for having done so. They inspired young and old to greatness by setting the example.
You don’t have to be a president, or even a governor, to be an inspiring role model for youngsters. My father, Henry Jones, operated a large cattle-feeding operation near Eden for many years. He bought and sold millions of dollars’ worth of cattle and feed strictly on his word--no need for written contracts. He gained a reputation for truth and honesty. He certainly helped to orient my moral compass, as well as many other young people in the Magic Valley.
Role models are critically important in high office and there is no higher office in this country than president. They set the tone for decency, truth, and honor for both kids and the general citizenry. I believe our president is sorely lacking as a role model and our children will suffer as a result.
When you rail against the “horrible” forced separation of young children from their amnesty-seeking parents and then blame your own policy on others, it is both cruel and dishonest. When you rail against trading with Iran and North Korea, but then excuse a Chinese company (ZTE Corp.) for doing just that, in addition to posing a national security threat against America, you are a hypocrite. When your relationship to the truth is tenuous, at best, you are not a good role model for American kids.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney said, “I would not point to the president as a role model for my grandkids.” James Lankford, a GOP senator from Oklahoma, echoed that sentiment on May 27. He said of the president, “I don’t want my kids to speak the way he speaks.” And, Sen. John McCain, who is a genuine role model, has also expressed concern about the President’s crude behavior.
Regardless of how they come down on political issues, we have a right to expect governmental officials, and particularly the president, to speak the truth and to conduct themselves with honor and dignity. And, we should expect the lower rank of officials, like Romney, Lankford and McCain, to call out those in their own party who refuse to behave themselves. Bad conduct has a trickle-down effect on our youth.
Jim Jones is a former Idaho attorney general and a former Idaho Supreme Court chief justice.