As the Republican candidates for president crisscross South Carolina, spewing venom at each other and producing lots of heat but no light, I have to ponder what I want for our country.
I want everyone to have adequate food and a safe place to sleep.

I want everyone to have access to health care.

I want every child to have the opportunity to have a good education.

I want everyone who wants a job to have a job.

Is this too much to hope for in the richest country on earth? Does this make me a liberal? Perhaps it does.

Does this make me a bleeding heart or a do-gooder? I don’t want to be a liberal or a conservative. I really want to be a radical as Jesus is a radical, but I am too timid.

Before you put me in that political box, consider that I also believe in capitalism. I was the administrator of a nonprofit agency for 35 years.

I depended on those who made a profit to support the work of my agency. I know that nonprofit organizations cannot exist and do the work that is so needed unless there are profit-making businesses.

My hope is that those businesses will make reasonable profits from ethical business decisions and then donate a sizeable amount of those profits.

Should churches be in the forefront of meeting these human needs? Of course they should.

Should individuals who profess their faith be involved in solving these problems? There is no doubt that the answer is a resounding yes.

There is no way to be a Christian and at the same time squirm away from the teachings of Jesus: “In so much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it also unto me.”

I believe that the role of government is to make certain that everyone has an equal opportunity at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You do not have an equal opportunity if you are hungry, fearful or poorly educated.

My years of working in nonprofit agencies, being an active church member, a community activist, and teaching hundreds of students have taught me that Americans are generous, kind, fair-minded people.

We are for the underdog. We love a success story.

I am opposed to any politician who tries to turn me against you or tries to drive a wedge between religious groups. We are all in this rickety boat together, and my welfare depends on your welfare.

I am searching for a leader who is a visionary. One who is knowledgeable, bold, creative, ethical and more interested in the well-being of all Americans than the welfare of his political party.

I want a leader who understands that we are faced with problems that cannot be solved overnight, but that those problems are solvable.

I am looking for a leader who recognizes his own weaknesses and who surrounds himself with trustworthy advisors.

I yearn for a leader who does not see cooperation as weakness. I am searching for a leader who inspires the best that is within us rather than what is most expedient.

I am searching for a leader who will not sell our country short but understands that we are part of a global community.

The world outside our borders can be frightening, but it is also filled with wonderful opportunities.

I am looking for a leader who not only talks about human rights but puts those words into practice in all of our transactions.

I can hear your jeers. I know I am an idealist, but indulge me for a minute.

Why should we not seek the best candidate? Why should we not seek someone who represents our highest values? Why must we settle for the candidate who can outmaneuver, out-lie, outspend, out-trash, out-demagogue all the others?

Think about it.

MitchCarnell is a consultant specializing in interpersonal and organizational communication. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.” He and Carol are active lay members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. He blogs at

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