Clinton, Trump well down list of 'inspirational' leaders

Posted10/29/2016 2:00 PM

One vote for Hillary Clinton.

One for Gary Johnson.


One for Donald Trump.

But 17 for Pope Francis and 10 each for Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

These were among the results of a highly unscientific poll I took by looking at responses to a Daily Herald questionnaire -- Please name one current leader who most inspires you -- we asked of candidates ranging from folks running for some of the less-glamorous suburban county jobs to those in our area running for Congress.

A few years ago, we decided that, in addition to serious questions on the issues affecting candidates' respective races, we'd also ask some less-serious, but, I'd say, telling, questions. Beyond the "inspire" question, we also asked candidates: What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?; If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?; What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?; If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Note that we weren't asking these politicians for names of other inspirational politicians, though some took it that way. Consider these examples:

"I am still looking for a political leader," one candidate said, "The Pope is my spiritual leader."

"I find little inspiration in the political, academic or government realm," opined another. "Instead, I am inspired by the small businessman who takes market risks and competes."

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And, finally, one candidate isn't impressed by any leaders of today: "None of the current leaders are too inspiring. My examples from the past are Lincoln, Jefferson, John Adams."

These and other responses can be found as part of our "Election 2016 Coverage" at the top of the home page of Just enter the name of the race you're interested in, and you'll see the news stories we've written, plus the "candidate profiles" that consist of the answers to our questionnaires. If you've grown weary of the nasty commercials that have picked up in frequency and vehemence the past few weeks, you might give these questionnaires a look. Yes, they're the carefully composed answers from the candidates, or perhaps their campaign staff, but at least they stay on message.

By the way, other inspirational leaders the candidates named include: Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate who was shot while fighting the Taliban's efforts to keep girls from attending school. She was mentioned six times. Also, Cubs manager Joe Maddon and House Speaker Paul Ryan (both with 4). GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Congressman John Lewis, U.S. Rep Bob Dold and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3 each). Of the 207 candidates who filled out questionnaires, 187 responded to that question.

This would be a good time for an acknowledgment: I am hugely grateful to my co-workers, who sometimes suggest great column ideas or often scramble to answer questions I often dream up for them on a Friday, the day this is written. In this case, I must salute Chris Gerke, a community news coordinator who makes sure the right questionnaires get into the Fox Valley Neighbor editions. She suggested -- and gave me an easy-to-view spread sheet detailing the answers -- that we do something more with this component of our candidate questionnaires.


Afraid to declare:

You probably notice in today's editions we're running several hundred column inches of reader responses to our decision last week to endorse Clinton for president. I was really struck by a thought conveyed in a letter to the editor that ran Saturday. It's short, but says a lot. I reprint it here in its entirety:

"Here it is, less than 30 days until the most contentious presidential campaign that I can remember, yet driving through the Glen Ellyn and Wheaton areas I have seen just one election sign and that was for Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine. I personally think this election is so negative that no one wants to have a sign in their yard declaring which candidate they choose. I believe they are afraid of a brick or worse, being thrown through their window. Good thing the election booths are private."

Karen Schlabach

Glen Ellyn

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

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