Skip navigation
text size: default | enlarged——servicing readers in 130 plus countries——110 free stories
Genre: Essay
Back to Previous Page Review This Story Share This Story

Suggesting A President

By: Bill Shankle

I can run for president in 2008. So, possibly, can you. Aside from restrictions of age and national origin, anyone with nothing pressing to do in the next four to eight years can campaign for the presidency. The qualifications for the most important job in the nation are less stringent than those needed to become a beautician, or a CPA.

This sparseness of requirements is one of the boldest innovations that accompanied our country's birth. The thought behind this was partly to ensure power was not confined to a small group of wealthy, elite individuals.

The molders of our republic envisioned a land of farmers and small business people - independent, with a high literacy rate and keen interest in government, both local and federal. From this population able and qualified citizens would rise to prominence, weeding out the unfit and unsavory. We would enjoy a continuous supply of men and women possessing the skills and experience to govern. Wisely.

Apparently, this idea lost something in the translation. While the founders were not naive enough to believe an illegitimate, penniless street urchin could grow up to be president, the possibility was still allowed. A quick survey of the 2004 hopefuls, or hopeless if you prefer, reveals (surprise!) a small group of wealthy, elite individuals. Ever wonder when was the last time one of them changed a flat tire? Or cut the grass? Or spent the last three days of the month debating whether to buy food or medication?

This alienation could be tolerated if it was balanced with wisdom and dignity. Instead, the aspirants are handcuffed to special interest groups concerned with manipulating the presidency to their advantage. In contrast to original intent, these office-seekers are order takers, not order givers. Lemmings, not lions.

So we'll suffer through another campaign of uninspiring retreads and Kennedy clones, hoping someone will introduce a coherent, feasible program to benefit all of America - not just lobbyists, or big business or minorities or whoever is paying for lunch that day.

With eligibility open to so many, why are our choices so depressingly slim? The problem lies with the kind of people who run for president, and the rest of us who accept them as our only choice. Maybe a few informal guidelines might eliminate the well-backed incompetent and the special interest toad. Make up some of your own, and see which, if any, candidates might fit the profile.

A candidate should speak at least two languages. A foreign language allows a different perspective and more effort in thought. It's a national embarrassment when the only leaders our president can converse with at an international conference are British, and sometimes, Canadians. It would also show respect to other nations, which could do no harm. Hokey phonetic phrases don't count.

Own or run a business. I don't mean one Dad left him either. A business person deals everyday with problems that need quick solutions. They usually work long hours for success, and are in touch with a wide variety of people. They must eliminate waste and adhere to sound fiscal planning. They know how to take charge. A far better background than acting. Enron and Worldcom executives need not apply.

Possess a general knowledge of world history and geography, and in-depth knowledge of America. I'll bet none of the candidates can name all fifty state capitals, or the presidents that came before them. Bragging about your low grades at Yale doesn't cut it anymore. Without an understanding of the past and the world around them, a moron is doomed to commit the same mistakes as the moron before them.

How about pursuing an artistic hobby? Paint, write, play a musical instrument. These activities require concentration and dedication. A cultured background breeds appreciation and attention to details. An unimaginative mind is fine for lounging at a Texas bar-b-que, not for running our nation.

Read. What, and how much a person reads tells a great deal about them. It wouldn't be difficult to draw up a list of a hundred or so books as suggested reading for candidates. Classics, political theories, economics and biographies for examples. With the right material a candidate could acquire a working knowledge of many subjects. When was the last time you heard a candidate talk about what he or she reads?

Our early leaders were statesmen, writers, architects, inventors, scientists and businessmen. Aside from their outdated views on women and slavery, they were pretty impressive. Largely self-taught in a isolated colony, they managed to master a great many skills. The innovations and grandeur of Mount Vernon were inspired by Washington's plans and sketches. Jefferson and Adams were bold men who spoke their minds, and believed what they said. Our candidates are neither master, or jack of any trades, unless talking without speaking has become an art form.

Fewer and fewer people vote. I'm beginning to see why. The choices selected in my voting lifetime were a Hollywood has-been, a lifelong bureaucrat, an Arkansas buffoon and a Texas playboy. It's as depressing as it reads. Possibly those who have what it takes to govern are disgusted by the selfishness and dishonesty that have become all too common. We must do something about it. To wander in frustration from one loser to the next is not the reason presidential eligibility was left open to so many.

To top of page