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. Dear Craig,
    I very much admire your articles in the Spy, and especially this one on authenticity with its quote by Jung. Your style is graceful and you always give great food for thought.

  2. Willard Engelskirchen says

    IMHO this piece is refreshing. Too many powerful people give me the sense that I would need to take a shower after shaking hands. There are some bright spots. But few. I would not count out Niki Haley. Honest debate precludes name calling.

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