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The Question Every American Should Be Asking

The Republican Iowa caucus is two weeks away, and with key primary contests shortly thereafter, the 2012 Presidential election will be upon us in no time. 

With a president seeking reelection and a GOP field that has been filling newspaper print, broadcast air and online space, voters will be facing an increasingly difficult question -- which of these people do we actually want to be president? Even more vexing, how do we determine whom the right person is to receive our vote?

How do we come about our decision? Usually, we will do a little bit of research on the candidates, read their stance on some issues on their websites, and perhaps listen to the talking heads on television,. Some in the media  will avoid the issues and instead focus on the irrelevant.

However, for the upcoming election year, let’s consider a different tactic. Let’s ask ourselves a different question when deciding on the “right” candidate, the question every American should be asking: What is our standard for being led?

We need think about this in earnest, because this one question will lead Americans to common ground, something this country needs and deserves now.

Of course, there isn’t one universal standard for being led. What one leadership quality could we all -- Republicans and Democrats and Independents -- agree on?

When one truly ponders this question,  Americans will come to understand that we all can agree on one vital desire: truth.  

Who is telling the truth? Not just now, but who has been telling the truth throughout his or her career?

It seems for the past several decades, our politicians having been saying whatever is necessary to get elected. 

Could the 2012 election be the turning point when this stops?  History is replete with the ill-fated actions of elected leaders, politicians and governments whose citizens did nothing to stop it.

While there can be a difference of opinion, what we need is the simple: black & white truth. Who is looking at us square in the eye and telling untruths? This can longer be tolerated and accepted as politics as usual. We need to stand up and challenge the candidates, demand of them a higher standard.

Our only barometer of a leader is through their words and deeds. We should judge our potential leader as we do with our family.

In the long run, it may be easier for Americans to undo the policies of our leaders who failed to tell the truth, since we can vote them out. It is more difficult, however, to restore common sense and wisdom, when people have been deceived over and over again. 

Perhaps, a democratic system can survive having chosen fools as its leaders. But, history shows time and again that a nation of fools is surely doomed

Can we agree to stop being foolish? Can we decide to turn off our party-line blinders and really search for that leader who will look us squarely in the eye and tell us the truth, as painful as it may be, in such a way that will resonate with voters.

The question remains: Who might that person be? We may not be able to figure that out as quickly as we would like. However, if we agree to demand the truth, our search may become a whole lot easier.

Andy Andrews is a New York Times best-selling author and in-demand speaker. His new book, How Do You Kill 11 Million People?, will be released on January 3, 2012.

Andy Andrews is the New York Times best-selling author of "The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success" and in-demand speaker. His latest book  "Baseball, Boys, and Bad Words: A True Story of Little League, Laughter, and Life,"  available wherever books are sold.