I’ve struggled with what political statement to make, which is why I haven’t made one to this point. I’ve not been thrilled with the Republican options, and even less thrilled with the Democratic ones. The Republican primary debates have replaced many of my normal TV shows, because they offer better quality comedy. And this isn’t a good thing…
I’ve divided this post into two sections. Part one will answer the question: What attributes should our president display? Part two will then be a “process of elimination,” candidate by candidate.
I’m a Republican, no getting around that. And I know Democrats won’t be voting Republican, or vice versa. But I hope you’ll look at my criteria and analysis with an open mind, no matter what it says on your voter ID.
What attributes should our President have?
Our president is supposed to be an example
Our president is a representation of our nation. The president, in many ways, is the leader of the world. When someone takes this office, they need to be above reproach. They need to exhibit high ethical standards, be regarded as a truthful and trustworthy person, and be well liked.
Another way to put it, as Max Lucado said, just have decency.
Our President should be able to work with others
The reality of the president’s job is that you have to work with others. The president has limited powers, on purpose, that restrict what they can get done. By design, they work more closely with a specific chairman or head of whatever department, than actually doing the work themselves. That’s a lot of people to communicate and plan with. If you cannot work with others, Washington comes to a stand still. If you cannot give a uniting speech, or an admonishment to either side of the aisle, you’ll be highly ineffective.
By not working with others, a president is left to executive orders, which only widen the gap. This is a scary type of leader. We should be fearful of any president that uses executive orders with a heavy hand.
Our president should have experience
I prefer an outsider as much as the next conservative. But it’s true. Without government experience, you’re behind the eight ball. Congress is perfect for those without experience, but the seat in the Oval Office requires a different pedigree. I’d love to see a candidate with private and government experience. But if you’ve had no government experience whatsoever, I’m sorry, but you should be disqualified.
History proves this out. We’ve only had five presidents that had never held an elected office before becoming president:
- Zachary Taylor
- Ulysses S. Grant
- William Howard Taft
- Herbert Hoover
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Four of those five held prestigious military positions. The other (Hoover) was the head of Commerce. All presidents have held high government positions before becoming president. This experience, whether state or federal, decreases the learning curve of the presidency, which I’d argue is one of the highest curves of any job in the world.
How does this apply to the current candidates?
Now that we’ve determined what we (or maybe just me) want in a candidate, let’s look at the candidates facing us today.
Trump doesn’t meet any of the criteria
It’s been said that Donald Trump could be the most unqualified candidate to ever get so much traction. He isn’t a good example, and he doesn’t have the necessary experience.
Trump is an unknown on the work with others, because he has been successful in business. But his constant insults mean I have a hard time believing he’d work as a president. We need a president who treats others well and can get along without throwing insults. Before Trump, I couldn’t even have imagined having to add this a criteria to a presidential discussion, because I didn’t think an adult, seeking the highest office in the land, would act in such a way.
Hillary doesn’t meet the example
Hillary Clinton. It blows my mind that she has the traction she does. Hillary is definitely the most unethical candidate, and the blinders people put on to ignore it are shocking.
Bill and Hillary Clinton run the Clinton Foundation. As the Secretary of State, Hillary took Bill on many trips. It’s well documented that when Bill gave a speech, which meant a donation to the Clinton Foundation, Hillary handed out favors. It’s shocking the lack of press this gets, but it’s flat out bribery that lines the pockets of the Clinton family. Add in Hillary using a private server, when she should know better than most the security risks, and you have a person playing fast and loose for personal gain.
Carson doesn’t meet the experience
Ben Carson is a weird candidate. I love Ben Carson on the surface, but his campaign has been a disaster. Even so, he doesn’t meet the proper criteria for experience. Even if you love Ben, his ideas, and his convictions, and his lack of experience should be alarming. You might say, “He’s smart, he’ll be fine!” but I can counter with, they’re all smart. You have to be to get to this stage.
Ben has some great personal insights, great books, and does well on the speaking circuit. But that doesn’t make you qualified to be president. The right experience does, and he doesn’t have it.
Bernie & Cruz cannot work with others
The issue with being an ideolog is you cannot work with others. There is no such thing as compromise, because the others’ opinions are unfathomable. This is the camp that Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz (and maybe even Carson fall under).
Bernie Sanders, the socialist. Bernie seems very likable, and I think ultimately he is. There is story after story about how Bernie has cared about social issues since he was a young man, so it’s clear Bernie has conviction. Even if you agree with his politics, Bernie’s ideology has led to him being on the fringe of the House and would lead to an uncomfortable presidency. Again, how can you get things done when you believe such poor things about the other side?
Also, people love Sanders’ plans in principle. But when the details come out, there are a lot more skeptics. This is going to be tough to overcome in the actual election.
Ted Cruz is brilliant. There is no questioning this, and there is no questioning Ted’s convictions. But that conviction means Ted refuses to work with others. Ted claims he’s not a political, but has pulled the most political moves of any campaign from claiming Ben Carson dropped out to fraudulent mailers. He has proven to be ruthless, and only out to win, which is what his reputation is everywhere.
For example, Ted has the reputation on Capitol Hill of being strongly disliked, even by other Republicans. The thing is, having different opinions doesn’t lead to this kind of dislike, your conduct does. Even Bernie Sanders and Jim Inhofe consider themselves friends!
Since the campaign has started, many journalists have tracked down Princeton classmates and found similar opinions to those on Capital Hill. This is a scary trend. One that paints Ted as power hungry and unagreeable.
We’re left with Kaisch & Rubio
Kasich is probably the most qualified candidate.
Kasich has all the experience you’ll want and is a moderate that works with others. He hasn’t given us a reason to disqualify him on being an “example,” but he has made some concerning comments that could create issues as president. He seems to be a viable candidate.
Rubio is my favorite, but still an average candidate.
Rubio has very little experience, but it is government experience. Also on this front, Rubio gets knocked for his lack of experience, but not Cruz? They’re the same age (I will admit, Cruz’s experience is more impressive). Rubio has proven he can work with others, and that’s where he faces his greatest attacks. He faces attacks for siding with Democrats to get things done. This can be good and bad, but it is the reality of Washington. As president, this skill is even more important.
In many ways Rubio has gotten caught up in the political process and denied or tried to cover during his attacks. To me this is a perfect example of where you need to explain yourself and trust the people will get your decision. He has also allowed the pressure of the Republican base to get him to “double down” on some hard issues, which could hurt him in the general election. But the same could be said for all the candidates.
What is good about Marco Rubio comes from his weakness. He’s young, able to speak to people, and has the similar vibe to Obama on that front. Polls show he fares well against Hillary and Bernie, something no other candidate can claim.
To me, the most alarming part of this race is the lack of candidates that we have to choose from. I don’t have many other races to compare to, but on qualifications alone, it seems other races had more qualified candidates. It’s unfortunate that this is what our field is, but it’s who we’re choosing.
I hope this analysis was insightful and helped you pick. I hope you like “my guy,” but I understand if you pick someone else. My hope with this blog post is it will cause you to think critically. Presidential elections are too big to just give it a cursory thought and vote. These candidates need serious thought, and with the way the polls are coming in, I’m concerned most of America isn’t doing that.