We have our candidates. The table is set for the election. But I, like many people, am far from excited about our choices. As usual, I’ll be voting for the least bad choice. Sometimes, that’s a close call. This year, it isn’t even close; it’s an incredibly easy decision. Yet I still long for something better. I still long for the ideal candidate.
So what would the ideal candidate look like? From my perspective, he or she would be:
- Smart and exceptionally wise – a second-level thinker who can see below the surface and around the corner and wise in his or her judgments (to state the obvious, smart and wise don’t always go hand in hand);
- A person of reason and science and not an ideologue;
- Open-minded yet decisive – The world is complex. A president should be open to others’ perspectives and opinions yet understand his or her role as final decision-maker on certain matters;
- A skilled negotiator (a big part of the job is negotiating with political allies, adversaries and foreign leaders);
- A visionary – someone who envisions a better future for our country and its people and can inspire others to share his or her vision;
- Authentic, courageous and sacrificial, and judicious in his or her use of force – someone who is willing to risk his or her life, and have his or her children risk theirs, for the things the president expects others to die for; doesn’t believe our armed forces are something to feed his or her ego; respects the lives of all people, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion or wealth; and someone who understands that evil is real and sometimes dominants the hearts of men and women;
- Someone who understands President Eisenhower was right when he cautioned the country to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex” (most subsequent presidents rejected this advice);
- Classy and honorable – someone you want your children to hear and emulate; someone who treats others with respect; no crass, foul-mouthed bullies;
- Someone who appreciates the need for regulation but also appreciates the risks with over-regulation;
- Someone who appreciates his or her unique role as the world’s leader of democracy and comports him or herself accordingly (in a sense, our president is also the world’s president); and
- A resilient fighter – someone who is willing to take on the obstructionists who inevitably stand in the way of progress and justice, someone who doesn’t fear conflict or who is thin skinned, someone who does not allow defeats and disappointments (inevitable for any president) to defeat him or her.
Will we ever have an ideal candidate? Of course not. And as long as the electorate tolerates a system that is so dominated by money, we’ll probably not come close.
But it is what it is. Life is messy. The presidency is the same as everything else in life: imperfect. It’s simply not reasonable to expect a perfect or ideal candidate.
Nevertheless, I suspect we will continue to get by with flawed leaders — provided our own principles and values remain solid, and so long as we retain our national unity and can-do spirit and collectively dream of a better world for our children, grandchildren and nation.
I am fortunate to have been born in America. It’s a great place in many respects. But I hope it’s an even better place for you, Vera. And I hope we are fortunate enough to have great leaders to help take us to that place.