Thursday, November 29, 2007

What do you look for in a presidential candidate?

It crossed my mind during the Republican YouTube debate last night to wonder what I am even looking for in a presidential candidate. I am a terrible judge of presidents: I've already mentioned that I voted for Gary Hart, but also, even though I voted for Gore, I took George W. Bush at face value on compassionate conservatism. So I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that my one vote won't amount to anything.

In addition to just being a poor presidential picker, I also have mixed feelings about many or most political issues.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to try to pick one. So I've been doing some introspection on what I am even looking for, and here's what I've come up with:

1. I like a president who makes wise financial decisions. This would include not promoting bills that were big wastes of money, and vetoing bills that were huge wastes of money. The Clinton era was a good era for this: I say the Clinton era, because I believe he had a lot of help from a Republican congress in keeping spending low. I enjoyed about the Republican YouTube debate the amount of lip service given to fiscal conservatism, but as we know from the current era, that may be all it is.
2. I would like to see a president who does not feel so entitled as regards our role in other people's countries. I am a Noam Chomsky reader, and I know that prior to the Bush era, the U.S. government was extremely involved in other countries (ex. Chile 1973, East Timor 1975), but at least they pretended otherwise. Now it seems way more overt. Seems dangerous to be so hated. I agreed with Paul on this one.
3. I don't want a president who seems mean or who engages in lots of black and white thinking. A president should be able to project strength and thoughtfulness at the same time.
4. I know from experience that there are a lot of people out there who seem nice, and hard-working, and trustworthy and sincere, then the veil slips and out comes the irrationality and narcissistic rage. I have had some bad experiences with these people in leadership roles, and it's a risk you take when giving someone a leadership role. I want someone who can take on a leadership role without morphing into a monster. And I think sincerity is part of this, so I look at them to try to figure out who is sincere, and yet, I am not necessarily so great at being able to tell. I don't consider George W. Bush narcissistic, exactly, though he's an Enneagram 7, and he certainly falls short where the first three criteria are concerned. I don't consider Bill Clinton narcissistic, exactly, though he's an Enneagram 3. It's because I haven't seen their hateful side. Actually, I have seen GWBush's hateful side, but only a lack of thoughtfulness and the certainty that he is right, not the actual rage.

What do you consider when choosing a president?


Chris said...

It would be refeshing to have a president who truly displayed humility. As a society, I think we have lost touch with just how important that is.

beje said...

I think that Jimmy Carter came the closest to displaying humility. But,he only managed one term and wasn't our best president. A good man, but not a good president. However, when you think about it, anyone rising to the position of running for president has to have an awfully big ego, and is unlikely to have any of those humble feelings. Might try to display them.....but not likely to have them.

Scott said...

Yeah, who would actually WANT to be President? You'd have to be a major masochist. And you'd have to LOVE power. And I think you would have to think you were right about most things.

I think the ability to listen and empathize would be nice in a President, and we certainly don't have THAT in Bush. Bush's conviction that he is right no matter what and will not change his position on anything is absolutely a terrible trait in a leader. If you imagine having a supervisor at a job that was so unswervingly convinced they were right all the time, and so unwilling to hear and process even the most mild dissent-- well, you'd quit the job, right?

Adamma said...

Thanks for writing this.