The Quest for Authenticity by Craig Fuller


Authenticity was one of George H.W. Bush’s most endearing qualities. I witnessed it daily and admired how someone so competitive and so much in the public view remained determine to be himself.

As individuals announce their intention to seek the presidency, something we should search for is their authenticity. Frankly, I find myself drawn to those who seem authentic and worry less about specific policy pronouncements at this point in time.

So, just what is it?

Carl Jung offered this insight: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

And, Psychology Today magazine suggests:

….authentic people possess a number of common characteristics that show they are psychologically mature and fully functioning as human beings.

Have realistic perceptions of reality.
Are accepting of themselves and of other people.
Are thoughtful.
Have a non-hostile sense of humor.
Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
Are open to learning from their mistakes.
Understand their motivations.

A very good list!

As I watched California Senator Kamala Harris announce her campaign for the presidency, the focus seemed to be on the size of the crowd. But, I looked ever more closely. She seemed joyous. She seemed to have searched and found who she is and decided she wants to lead the nation for a series of good reasons.

In one rating of experts viewed over the weekend, Senator Harris placed first in the strongest of the newly announced candidates. I think her authenticity, even more than her just beginning to be crafted policies, that gave her a boost. [View recent interview here.]

Then there is the new and youngest Member of Congress from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at age 29 is attracting considerable political and media attention. Again, her authenticity seems to be at the heart of what excites people. She may rile Democrats and Republican with her passion to upset the system, but no one can doubt her commitment to improving the future in ways in which she believes deeply. [View recent interview]

So, some might ask, what about the Republican party? Is the authenticity exhibited by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush something of the past in the GOP? Well, I certainly hope not!

In former Congressman and former Governor, John Kasich, we have an undaunted warrior who seeks to spread his message, one that seems both deeply thought out and believed in. If his authenticity seems to ignite less fervor, perhaps that is due to the fact he has been so public for so long. [View recent interview]

As voters begin to focus (and Iowa Caucuses are only one year away), I believe the search for authenticity grows in importance as candidates are evaluated. Interestingly, over the weekend Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) shared in an interview that he was going to be himself in a quest for the presidency and if half of the voters didn’t like that, then he wouldn’t be President.

Let’s hope the others who run will seek to really share who they are…and, even more importantly, let’s hope they know!

Source: Psychology Today

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.



Letters to Editor

  1. Deirdre LaMotte says

    Yes! Sen. Harris and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez are both whip-smart , charming, and have spine. Love them both!!

  2. Carla Massoni says

    Thanks Craig. I have been thinking about my preferred ticket . Kamala Harris and Sherrod Brown. Both are bright and bring great experience. But honestly, I just like listening to them. What a treat that would be.

  3. Fred W.J. Kirchner says

    This was an excellent definition of “authenticity”, and from various sources. Yet the article seems to strain to “qualify” both Harris and Cortez. One must consider the fact that the media technologies, and the advent of social media of today was not around when HW and Reagan were president. It seems to me that the authenticity exhibited by President Trump meets the qualifications listed above exactly.. Maybe the democratic party needs to catch up to the fact that the PEOPLE rule in America, NOT the speaker of the House or the Senate Minority Leader !! The members of Congress need to do what their constituencies demand, NOT what their partisan leadership demands. Election reform may be a direction, as anyone can simply create a campaign committee and raise money to travel the country and enjoy the best restaurants and hotels and become a social media movie star ! Are they really interested in the presidency if they continue without dropping out.. There are some candidates from the 2016 election who are still fund raising. Campaigning in today’s internet based world is a income producing job for candidates.. Immigration is all about keeping and creating more jobs in Congress and state legislatures. 2020 is not so much about the election as it is for the Census!

  4. Nancy Schwerzler says

    Add Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to the list of authentic, credible candidates. (She is expected to announce her candidacy in a few days.)

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