In medieval times, guilt or innocence was sometimes determined in trial by battle between armed combatants. Persons unable to do battle had the right to nominate champions to fight by proxy.


One could suggest that today's counterparts are our elected officials, sent to the halls of government to represent us as proxies in the matters of legislation, executing and implementing the legislation and doing justice.


In choosing a champion perhaps we ought not ask, first and foremost, what tribe he or she comes from, but what characteristics he or she possesses.


Does your champion act with honor; does he do honor to others?


Does he value the truth? Is integrity in his core?


Does your champion credit the opinion of others; in dialogue with them, do his answers add value to their questions?


Is your champion temperate in addressing opponents; do his actions celebrate the great strengths of democracy, including its first principles of cooperation and compromise?


Does your champion esteem freedom of the press; does he understand that by nature, and historically, it has been, is and must often be adversarial; that it is essential to democracy?


Does your champion show humility where it is warranted? Does he place the good of the nation above his own interests?


Do your champion's words inspire others? Do they lift us to high places where we can see the peaks and valleys that make up all our lives? Do his words offer hope to us, and especially to those who seek a better life and are willing to work for it?


Does your champion have compassion? Can he see desperation in the eyes of the less fortunate and those despairing and afflicted with poverty or conflict not of their own making? Can he show respect to them, even if the solutions to their plight are beyond simplicity?


Does he try to inform himself; does he read; does he listen to advisers?


Does your champion surround himself with those of proven character and integrity?


Does your champion defend the Constitution; does he defend our institutions?


Does your champion discourage the actions and writings of those who espouse hatred of others?


Does his leadership of the free world earn the respect of other nations?


Finally, does your champion work to unite us; does he hold high the shining values of equality; does he lead in the quest for justice?


We all have flaws, and our leaders are no exception. Nonetheless, choose your champion wisely, lest he turn on you with the sword you helped him carry.


John Tyo resides in Shortsville, N.Y. Originally published by the Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.