Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Can George Washington Teach Paul Kagame?

George Washington, the first President of the United States, plainly was a great man:  a great field commander, one who shared the burdens with his soldiers, and became the first elected President, and who retired after his second term.  Washington could have been king or President for Life.  Yet, he choose to leave office at the end of his second term.  Washington's retirement allowed for the peaceful transition of civil power in the US.

Will Paul Kagame, a man whom I admire second to none, emulate George Washington?  The temptation to stay in power -- for the noblest reasons to help heal his country and perpetuate the change he has spearheaded -- must be overwhelming.  He is indispensible, but so was Washington. 

Kagame's seven year term ends in 2017.  He has been somewhat coy on allowing calls for the constitution to be changed to allow himself to run for election again.  I think it is right for him to leave the question open; no one wants to be a lame duck, and Kagame genuinely has concern about the stability of his government and country.  The moment of truth is several years from now.

George Washington was a man of incredible personal courage and dignity.  As one reads his biographies and learns about him, one sees that the US was fortunate indeed to have Washington as its first President.  Paul Kagame is made of the same stuff as Washington:  a great man, a humble man, and a man who can be a paragon of virtue, one who can continue to make great sacrifices for his country.  His courage, and his virtue, should lead him to follow -- to follow the example of George Washington.

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