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Leaders and Voters: The Ideal Requirements?
@The Weekly English Conversation Clubs
Bethesda Library, Montgomery County , Maryland , 20814 , USA

voting


Let us get started…
The United States presidential election of 2008 on Tuesday 4 November 2008 will include many state and local elections. Like all elections everywhere around the world, there will be leaders and voters. Today we will look at some personal qualities of leaders and some life experiences of voters. What are the ideal requirements for a leader? For a voter?

Background for Leaders:
The world has always been a small place. The personal qualities of past, present, and future leaders, whether a prince, a prime minister, or a president, can affect us all. Richard D. "Rick" Warren, an American author, wrote an article in the October 2008 issue of the Ladies Home Journal, asking, What Makes A Great President? He proposed six personal qualities for a leader:

• Compassion
• Contemplation
• Cheerfulness
• Concentration
• Courage
• A Clear Conscience

Background for Voters:
The kinds of leaders running for office are important but so are the kinds of voters casting ballots. A person’s life experiences may affect how they vote. In a 1953 novel, In the Wet, British-born Australian Nevil Shute imagined a world in which some individuals would have seven-times the voting power of a basic voter! Shute proposed that each adult would have ONE basic vote. Then, for EACH one of the following life experiences that a voter had, the voter could cast an EXTRA vote:

• Higher Education
• Working Overseas (2+ years)
• Raising a Child
• Personal Achievement (Science/Business/Art/etc.)
• Peace Worker /Nun/Monk
• Decoration for Valor or Sacrifice

Over to you:
Think about what leadership qualities and life experiences you admire in people.

In pairs for 5 minutes, ask and answer these questions.
• Who was the best leader/supervisor OR most experienced person you have ever known?
• Where did they live or work?
• When did you meet or learn about them?
• Whom did they lead or what had they experienced?
• Why do you admire them?
Listen and share your partner’s answers with the group.

Round Robin ~ each client, in turn, asks the table one of the following:

ballot box

Questions about Leaders
Let us discuss Rick Warren’s ideal leadership qualities beginning with compassion. What is compassion? What is considered an act of compassion in your home country? Who is the most compassionate person you have ever known? What did they do?

What is contemplation? What do people contemplate in your home country? Where do people go to contemplate? Why would this be desirable in a leader? Why not?

What is cheerfulness? Is cheerfulness a virtue in your home country? Who is the most cheerful person you have ever known? What do they have to be cheerful about? Why would this be desirable in a leader? Why not?

What is concentration? Is the ability to concentrate valued in your home country? How do you concentrate? Why would this be desirable in a leader? Why not?

What is courage? Who or what is considered courageous in your home country? Who is the most courageous person you have ever known? What did they do? Why would this be desirable in a leader? Why not?

What is a clear conscience? Why would this be desirable in a leader? Why not?

Questions about Voters
Let us discuss the ideal voter qualifications beginning with age. Nevil Shute thought every adult should get one vote. How young or old do you think voters should be? Why?

What about Shute’s proposed qualifications for additional votes? How common is higher education in your home country? How would it affect a voter? What difference would it make? Would this be desirable in a voter? Why not?

What about working overseas? How do you think living and working outside the home country for two or more years would affect the way a person voted? Would this be desirable in a voter? Why not?

Nevil Shute thought raising a child was worth an extra vote. What do you think? Who benefits when a child is raised by a voter? How would that affect the way a person voted?

Personal achievement in science, business, or art, etc, was worth another vote. What kind of personal achievement would be worthy? How would that affect the way a person voted? Would this be desirable in a voter? Why not?

Peace workers were entitled to an extra vote. What kind of people would that include? How would this affect the way a person voted? Would this be desirable in a voter? Why not?

The last possible type of extra vote was to be given when an individual had received recognition or a decoration for valor or sacrifice. What is the most valiant act you have ever witnessed? The greatest sacrifice you have ever known? How would that affect the way a person voted?

Lastly, is there anybody you know or know of, living or dead, who would be a seven-vote man or woman? Why would they be entitled to seven votes? Who are they and what did they do?

Visit     www.lwv.org The League of Women Voters for more US election information
www.nevilshute.org The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation web site
www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library for more English Learner information

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