Why and how do we choose our leaders? A look at history with implications to today.
|It is the dream of every red-blooded American to rise to the pinnacle of success. My Mother and American folklore has said, “Someday they may be President, if things loosen up.” How loose do they have to be? I wondered and I examined.
Indeed, I think only President would do in my travails. Most Vice Presidents are selected because they wouldn’t offend anyone. How else could you defend a group’s rationale for selecting an Ichabod Crane-like character like Calvin Coolidge? After the death of his running mate in office, he became a similarly irrelevant President. He even got re-elected. At his death, someone noted his passing. The respondent would counter, “How can you be sure?”
The Presidency is held in such high esteem. “Hail to the Chief is played whenever the nations chief executive enters the room. Most people do not know that the custom started during the Van Buren administration, by his wife. Martin Van Buren was kind of short so she wanted to make sure everyone knew he was coming.
Our nation’s leaders have been selected by almost every ploy known to man. William Taft was a personal friend of Teddy Roosevelt. He didn’t even want to be president. He had his sights on a justice of the Supreme Court. His wife wanted the job for him. He certainly didn’t look Presidential. He weighed 350 pounds and got stuck in the White House tub. The Taft tub is still in the White House and is one of the few places on Capitol Hill that nothing gets bottlenecked.
On the other hand, Warren Harding looked presidential. He was chosen in one of the original smoke-filled rooms mainly because of the appearance credentials. He would tell people during his term, that he didn’t want to waste a lot of time thinking and from looking at his record, he did not.
Sometimes we choose a man because he is a reformer. His backers say, he’ll bring change. Consider Jimmy Carter with absolutely no federal government experience. He brought change during his leadership, mostly bad. He used the Presidency as a springboard to what he was truly good at, humanitarian efforts.
We don’t have to loosen things up any more to let just about anyone govern. Just about everybody has, with disastrous results. A popular ploy of today’s electorate is to say I am not voting for someone’s leadership, I am voting against the leadership of someone else. The unsaid supposition is that maybe, perhaps by random chance, they will be better. History would not back that way of doing things.
I think the key thing is to look at where the countries going and what we want as individuals. No one is talking about that and we let them get away with that. We get the leadership we deserve. How frightening! This election cycle deserves some very heavy soul searching. In terms of the next President, I hope he is not too short. I would hate for the Presidential song to change to the Musketeer Song.