On Leadership and Democracy–

“You never can tell what’s going to happen to a man until he gets to a place of responsibility. You just can’t tell in advance, whether you’re talking about a general in the field in a military situation or the manager of a large farm or a bank officer or a president… You’ve just got to pick the man you think is best on the basis of his past history and the views he expresses on present events and situations, and then you sit around and do a lot of hoping and if you’re inclined that way, a certain amount of praying.”

“The next generation never learns anything from the previous one until it’s brought home with a hammer. I’ve wondered why the next generation can’t profit from the generation before but they never do until they get knocked in the head by experience.”

Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

“You just can’t tell. Sobering words, but we still have to try, or else the whole democratic enterprise becomes even less intelligible than it already is. History–which is all we have to go on–suggest that a president’s vices and his virtues matter enormously, for politics is a human, not a clinical, undertaking. So, too, do the vices and virtues of the people at large, for leadership is the art of the possible, and possibility is determined by whether generosity can triumph over selfishness in the American soul.”

Jon Meacham, The Soul of America

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