Archive | February, 2016

The Prototypical President

16 Feb

During presidential elections, there is always discussion about what qualifies someone to be president. Is it more important to have someone with governing experience, or is it more important to have someone with business experience? Does a president need to have experience in the military?

First of all, a prospective president’s race and gender are immaterial. We should be beyond that by now. If beauty is skin deep, it is certain there is nothing shallower than someone who sees race or gender.

Governing experience is important in itself, but it is also a matter of trust. Donald Trump, for example, may do an excellent job of governing the nation, but voting for him is risky. How can we know that when he gets into office he won’t completely change his allegiance or, worse still, have no allegiance at all? Someone who has governed a state for at least one term has demonstrated what they will do when they get into power. It is extremely unlikely that someone who has governed a state in a certain way will govern the United States in an entirely different way. It is important that they actually govern a state. A governor is someone who has made real decisions and been held accountable for them. Senators and representatives can vote for things like going to war or raising taxes and later deny that they are responsible. Governors have to execute the decisions they make and answer for the outcome.

A president who has never run a business cannot understand the problems of a business man. How can a person who has never made actual business decisions know what it takes to make a business succeed? How can he know the effect of more regulations, expanded medical insurance requirements or higher business taxes if he has never had to make payroll and still make a profit? How can he grasp the experience of working 80 hour weeks…staying at an office or a desk after hours doing his bookwork? A politician can philosophize indefinitely about the likely effect of a policy. A business man has to subtract expenses from income, balance a checkbook and pay bills.

Tax Burden

A president who does not have direct military experience may be an excellent commander in chief. The problem is that he will have no legitimacy. When a man or woman who has no military experience sends troops into combat, there is a natural objection: how can someone who has never faced an enemy in a life or death struggle make such a decision? How can he order someone to do something that he might be unwilling or incapable of doing himself? Is he leading the troops or is he actually hiding behind them? Great military commanders from Alexander the Great to George Washington literally lead troops into battle. Alexander is often described as having been his own best soldier. A commander in chief must have military experience.

Here is my ideal résumé for someone who aspires to the presidency. It is unlikely that anyone will ever have these exact qualifications, but the closer someone can come to this the better. This is not the résumé of an ordinary person. No ordinary person should be President. A president should be a superman:

0-18 years of age:

Excellent student and athlete. Reads everything. Sincere but not obsessive Christian. Skeptical of religion, but never cynical. He loves life and does not struggle with meaning, so he does not need pat answers to complicated questions.

18-21

Joins the Marines just because he is curious and patriotic and he admires the Marines. Ideally, he will experience some combat. Honorably discharged.

21-28

Goes to college. Majors in physics and minors in economics. Gets a PhD in computer science. Always reads difficult science, history, economics, philosophy, etc. He can practically recite the Great Books.

Great Books

28-48

Officer in the military. Gets married and stays married. Is 100% loyal to his spouse. Ultimately works in the Pentagon as an expert in computer science.

48-58

Lives off his pension while building a successful business.

57-64

Sells his business for at least a billion dollars. The best test of the success of a business is what someone will pay for it. Runs for and is elected as state senator or representative in his own state.

63-68

Runs for and is elected as governor of his own state. This is probably the most important qualification. No one should be president who has not governed a state.

67-70

Serves as Secretary of State for the United States. A prospective president must have national experience and foreign policy experience.

70

Runs for President of the United States. By this time, he is so knowledgeable and experienced that any decision he is confronted with will be nearly automatic. While he will have lived 70 years, he will still seem young and alert. I have met plenty of 70 year-olds who suffer no infirmity. This is what I expect from a president.

Like I said above, this is not the résumé of an ordinary person. This is the résumé of a superman. There are over 300 million Americans. Out of these 300 million, it is not unreasonable to demand such a person for our leader. The résumé of a prospective president should not be complete. It should not be merely exemplary. It should be vast.

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