There is much talk about the political “elite” vs. the everyday person. While it is certainly true that some, if not many, of our elected officials aren’t what they should be, but the question we must ask ourselves is do we really want the person next door as our President or the Speaker of the House?
We are starting to gear up for a presidential election, the entire house of representatives, and 23 members of the senate. These people will have a great deal of control over the lives of everyday Americans. They will make choices on appointments to our highest courts, possibly decide if we will declare war on another country, make choices about our debt, our spending, and how we are to deal with the rest of the world. These are major decisions that take a certain amount of “gravitas”.
I have been told for the majority of my life that I am intelligent. I got good grades in school. During college I worked almost full time and still handled a full class load. I didn’t have much of a life, but I managed to graduate with honors. I was determined to become only the second person in my family to get a college degree. I did this without any financial support from my family and had to pay back boatloads of money in student loans when I was finished. There are many things that I am very capable of. I have a background in direct mail fundraising. I have been on print inspections and have found minor mistakes that the printers told me that virtually no one else would have noticed. I can get several million pieces of mail into mailboxes around the country every month very easily. You may not realize it but it takes a great deal of coordination and skill to get this done accurately and on time. I am well read and I keep up on both national and local events. But, there is no way that I am capable of being President of the United States (a great relief to some, I am sure).
Take my next door neighbors for example. One of which owns a restaurant, a very successful restaurant at that. He works very hard and is a great neighbor, he has helped me out on a few occasions. Running a business like that takes a great many different skills to make it a success. But, he is pretty unaware of what goes on “inside the beltway” even though he lives 20 minutes away from the White House. He isn’t the type of person who pays a great deal of attention to government events. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think he votes. I have another neighbor who I firmly believe beats his wife; either that or she is the most accident prone woman I have ever met. She constantly has fresh bruises and funny stories of how she fell or bumped into something. They have two kids who are strange to say the least. One of which is the class bully. Now, to people who don't see them every day they seem like a nice family; live in a nice home, have a good income, all the trappings of the average American life. Another one of my neighbors is just plain mean. They never speak to anyone else and are constantly calling the police to complain about one thing or another. I am sure by now they have personal relationships with some of the cops. The rest of us just ignore them, and I wonder if anyone would be willing to help them during an emergency. I know I would be tempted not to. My point is are these the type of people I want running our country?
Our country needs people who are dedicated to helping the country and fellow Americans. There are plenty of people who make wonderful legislators; they are smart and they are dedicated. But, the truth is that most people realize that they don’t want the job of President. The decisions that are made in the oval office can sometimes be of life or death. Do you move troops into harms way? How do you handle the loved ones of fallen soldier? You are on call 24/7 for four years straight. Every president ages in what seems like warp speed while in the White House. Your family lives in a fishbowl, every mistake that they make may end up on the front page of the newspapers. How you dress, what you read, what you eat, where you vacation all get analyzed down to the most minute of detail. This takes a person of special character.
The rigors of running for public office is sometimes overly harsh. Do we really need to know some of the things that get reported? Probably not. But, we do need to know if they can handle the job. Can they survive the pressure cooker that is the White House? If they can’t handle the campaign, they can’t handle the job. We get upset about politicians that speak to us in talking points instead of speaking from their gut or their heart. The problem comes when someone is always speaking from their gut they will sometimes make a mistake, that mistake then turns into a major headline and is all over the blogosphere for days on end. They can no longer talk about the issues, they are talking about the gaffe instead. The other question that arises from someone who always is speaking from the heart for me is that person going to govern with emotion over fact? We all know that the two can be mutually exclusive at moments. There are reasons why the first family is protected. The very last thing we would need as a country would be a president making policy choices when their loved one is being held captive. They would be acting as spouse/parent as opposed to acting as president. Of course that is an extreme example, but it is still something to think about. In many ways we need someone who is going to take everyday emotion out of certain decisions. We need to know that this person can think on a macro level instead of a micro level, and emotions tend to be on the micro level. The family next door probably leads a life like yours. Your first thought is first and foremost your family. While that makes you a good parent and spouse, does it lend itself well to the presidency?
We need to think long and hard about wanting the “everyday person”. Because what we need is someone who capable, competent, intelligent, savvy, and willing to not only make the hard choices, but to stand by them as well. The world is a dangerous place; look no further to the protests in Egypt. We may end up with another Iran in a matter of days or weeks, The Muslim Brotherhood could topple the government. We have major decisions to make in this country regarding our national debt and how to handle entitlements moving forward. We cannot allow the presidency to turn into a popularity contest. While that is true on a certain level already, but I personally don’t want the class president, I want the most competent person. I want the person who will stand and make the tough choices, stand by a set of beliefs, and do what is right for the future of this country. I don’t want my next door neighbors. Take a look at your neighbors and ask yourself if they are who you want. Once you do that, then ask yourself if you still believe that gravitas doesn’t matter?