I got this in email from my niece:
“Aunt Chrissy, What characteristics do you believe make for a great President?”
I thought I’d share my reply.
What a tough question. Phew.
First, there are no women in the race anymore, so I’m not going to bother with him/her PC grammatical gymnastics here.
Second, I think a third party candidate would hand the race to Obama, so I am definitely looking for the person I want for President to win the Republican nomination.
Third, it’s no secret that I’ve become a Right Wingnut. My core values have not changed from when I self-identified as a liberal Democrat, but my knowledge has changed a lot. In every area I’ve explored, I have seen proof positive that Democrat policies are destructive of the very things they say they will support.
Take just one small example: housing costs.
Democrats are big proponents of rent control laws, claiming they create affordable housing for the poor. But the TRUE outcome of rent control is scarce, expensive housing.
The two cities in this nation that have the oldest and toughest rent control laws are New York and San Francisco. The two cities in this nation with the highest rent costs are New York and San Francisco.
In other words, the people who are most harmed by rent control laws are the very people Democrats claimed rent control would help.
In studying Conservative literature, I’ve come to realize that Democrats have everything backwards when they use personal sob stories as a club to get people to accept their ideas. Sob stories are appropriate only as reasons to engage in personal charity. Government policy should be based on the big picture, with a sharp eye toward what is best for most and what really works.
And this is where I have come to despise Democrats the most. It seems to me that whenever Conservatives try to talk about reality, about why we know that our policies will help while Democrat policies will harm the very people in the sob stories, Democrats and their lapdogs in the media shout us down. There’s no dialogue, just name calling.
Frankly, I’m sick of it. I’m not evil, selfish, greedy, racist, homophobic, narrow-minded, stupid or ill-educated. If they want to disagree with us, that’s fine. But how about if they LISTEN to us first?
As for the character of the candidates … wow. We give our president so much power, so much responsibility … you almost have to question the character of anyone who is narcissistic enough to think he can do the job at all, never mind someone who wants it badly enough to go through more than a year of non-stop fund-raising, campaigning, getting slashed to ribbons by opponents and the media, etc.
In 2008, I read somewhere that we should look at voting more like we’re hiring an employee than like we’re choosing the best act on Idol or Dancing with the Stars. I don’t think I’d ever quite thought of voting that way. But when I began to look at the presidency as a job I was trying to fill, I was truly boggled.
Take just the fact that our President has to live at his work. Yuk. I tried that twice … living in a dorm at college and later living on site as apartment manager … and HATED it. Let me go HOME at the end of the day!
One pundit said the Brits have divided up their leadership into the pomp and the policy. The royals do the pomp and the Prime Minister does the policy. We expect the President to do both.
Plus he has to focus completely on each task as it comes up, then completely put it aside to do the next thing.
So, say the President’s day begins with breakfast with his wife. Then he goes down to his office and has the daily national security briefing where they hit him with all the pending and actual crises here and abroad.
Next, maybe he has a meeting with bereaved military parents, where he has to set aside worries about the briefing to be the compassionate Commander in Chief who sent this couple’s child to war.
Next, maybe he goes out to the South Lawn to greet an arriving Head of State … smile, shake hands, make a speech, listen to a speech, stand for a photo spray, then go inside for private high level discussion with Head of State on whatever matters are on the table for our two nations.
While Head of State goes to his digs to get ready for the State Dinner, the President goes upstairs for lunch, after which he has to start in again with the afternoon’s schedule.
Maybe he puts in a call to the space station or yuks it up with some sports team, then gets a report about the latest devastating tornado/earthquake/whatever, and then has a meeting with his advisors about what the opposition party and the people in his own party who don’t like him are cooking up to make his policies crash and burn.
Then it’ll be time to go back upstairs to shower and get primped for an hours-long State Dinner of speechifying, smiling, hand shaking, and looking all-over-enthused about whoever is there.
Then, it begins again in the morning, provided of course that nobody wakes him at 3 am because somebody hijacked an airliner or threatened to set off a nuke.
And WE have to decide who’s best for this nightmare of a job? Yoiks!
I used to think the prolonged campaigning was a big waste of time and money, but now I think it’s a really good process. The candidates get sharpened and the voters get to see and hear how well the candidates perform at the kinds of tasks they’ll have to do if elected. Like, hiring competent staff and working with them. Like, performing while exhausted, giving formal speeches, smiling sincerely during endless photo sprays, answering tough, unplanned questions in any and all settings, and being personable and warm during one-on-one meetings with citizens.
I’ve always looked at core values, but I’m smarter now about not just listening to a candidate’s current position. I also look into his voting history, past speeches, etc. If he has changed positions, does he say it is because he wised up, got better information, or saw that what he thought would work did not? Or is he saying what he thinks will get him elected? Did he say the opposite things in speeches to pro-abortion and pro-life groups, for example?
I’ve also always looked at character, but I’ve gotten more experienced about how to see the real man, not the packaged commodity. One thing I pay a lot of attention to is how a candidate behaves when he’s attacked. I want someone who has a strong backbone, a thick skin and a clear vision of his mission, but I also want someone who can work with the opposition to get things done. So I watch body language a lot, especially the candidate’s unscripted reactions on live debates and at townhalls, interviews and rope lines.
One of the things I greatly admire in Sarah Palin is her ability to stand firm and take no crap, but also to turn aside anger with a quip. Like after that stupid thing where she was criticized for using notes written on her hand … and this from people whose fave prez uses a teleprompter for everything! The next day, she wrote “Hi Mom!” on her hand and waved it at the cameras. I loved that! Reagan was really good at using humor also. He could rag on his opponents with a smile, but it came off as charming, not smarmy or nasty.
Faith has also been a big issue for me. I supported Carter because he was a Born Again Christian. Then I saw him do a lousy job as President. I think that’s one reason I backed off politics. Once burned, twice shy. But I’ve matured, gotten more confidence in myself and also learned a lot about leadership from watching the military. I still believe that leaders need the core values I cherish. In particular, I believe they aren’t safe having that much power if they do not know for real that they ultimately answer not just to the voters, but also to God Almighty.
I have come to believe that Democrat policies not only harm the poorest and weakest among us, but also interfere with Democrats’ ability to behave well in their personal lives. Study after study has proven that it is Conservatives who believe in small government, individual freedom and maximum personal responsibility who are the happiest, most generous and most productive members of society.
Obviously, we’re not perfect. But some Democrats act like the problem is having values, not failing to live up to them. Look at the way they treated Clarence Thomas (Anita Hill) vs the way they treated Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky). I’ve even seen some of them defend this double standard, saying that people who aspire to live up to high standards are automatically worse than people who do not, regardless of their behaviors!
As for the truly hypocritical Democrats like Al “Carbon Footprint” Gore … well, Jesus had a lot to say about this kind of thing in that parable about the two men who went to the temple to pray. Remember?
But the President needs more than true faith in God and good values. He also needs to be a true leader, someone who can both care deeply about what is best for those in his chain of command, while also setting aside his concern for the individuals in order to do what is best for the mission.
It’s a tough place to be. If he’s too compassionate, he won’t be able to make the tough decisions that get people killed. If he’s not compassionate enough, his men won’t give him their best. Did you ever see U-571? Leadership is one of the main themes; I highly recommend it.
To summarize: I want a politically Conservative candidate who has the God-centered faith to keep him from becoming a tyrant, the sharp intellect to make excellent decisions, the guts to stand firm when those decisions are unpopular and the heart to inspire others to implement his policies no matter the cost.
Thank you for asking such an inspiring question! I am very flattered you care about my opinion and really admire your willingness to dive into these issues. When I was your age, I had my head in the sand.
I know you’re super busy, but if you have some time, we’d love to have you come and join in the conversation at PoliNation.
Hugs, Auntie Chrissy