What Do You Want In A President?

Uploaded by TheThinkingAtheist on Aug 28, 2012

Is there a topic of discussion more polarizing than religion? Politics.
As the US Presidential election approaches, and because I host an online community of
skeptics, I get a lot of questions about my own perspectives on the presidency and how
a secular worldview colors those perspectives. Now we can argue all day about social programs
and taxation and regulations and the military and the role of government and the Left and
the Right and the Republicans and the Democrats and everyone in betweenÖand the 3-ring circus
that is the American political system. People always ask, who are you gonna vote
for? And Iím like many of you. I look at the options, the pathetic plate of leftovers
weíre supposed to choose from, and I wonder why Iím supposed to be satisfied, as a voter,
with choosing the best of the worst.
In my mind, thereís a bigger questionÖa more important question to ask: As a secular
individual and a US. citizen, what do I really wantÖwhat do I really expect from my Commander
in Chief? Well, I can tell you what I donít want. I
donít want someone who was groomed for public office fresh out of college. I donít want
some slick theoretician in a suit with a pretty face and a fancy new law degree. I want someone
who hasnít just read the playbook and seen the theory, but has been out there on the
field, in the real world, executing plays. I want somebody who has worked a real job
outside of public office. I want somebody who has juggled a career and family and a
mortgage and bills and learned how to make a budget and live within it.
I want someone who mowed their own lawn, who has changed a flat tire, who has pressed their
own clothes, somebody who doesnít have perfect hair, who experimented in college, who has
a hobby other than golf, who thinks itís wasteful to spend $1500 on one set of clothes,
who didnít grow up with servants, who knows what itís like to wait in line at the DMV,
somebody who defines success as what they do MORE than what they have.
NowÖI donít mind financial success. I really donít. I honestly donít mind someone being
rich. Good for them. But for higher office, I also donít want someone who started their
life with a silver spoon or ended their private job with a golden parachute. I want my President
to have earned it, to have had inventive ideas and worked hard and treated other people well
and prospered because they had the stuff to be successful, to overcome obstacles, to solve
problems, to give their word and keep it, and to apologize for mistakes.
And yeahÖI want a President who will admit theyíve made mistakes. Someone who has taken
a wrong turn and made a bad choice and supported a bad decision and came away with life lessons
that helped them make better choices the next time. Without blame. Without excuses. Who
in life hasnít made mistakes? The greatest success stories in history so often came from
those who had previously failed, and often failed miserably, but they kept at it, kept
working, kept innovating, kept trying, kept learning and refused to quit. They didnít
pass the buck or point fingers. They sucked it up, regrouped, ignored the naysayers and
got back in the game. I want someone who loves his countryÖwho
is patriotic without being blindly patrioticÖwho takes great pride in these United States but
who also stands with gratitude, humility and friendship alongside the many other great
and free nations of the world. I want someone who sees the Big Picture, who
can understand the cultures and perspectives of the nations and citizens we share this
planet with. Who can see the complex challenges of foreign policy in three dimensions, beyond
borders and skin color and language barriers, who can discern root problems, and who sees
the issues here and abroad, not through the lens of a religious ideology or holy prophecy
or spiritual warfare or signs of the End Times, but as cause-and-effect circumstances brought
about by human beings, complex ises that can only be navigated and solved by human beings.
Yeah. I want a President that is a humanist. With eyes forward, not looking up to the sky.
Who doesnít put their trust in invisible friends, who doesnít have long-standing ties
to the radical religion or the batshit-crazy pastor.
I want a President who will uphold and constantly reinforce the constitutional wall which protects
the state from the church AND the church from the state, who doesnít invoke their faith
to improve polling numbers, who realizes that the founding fathers did not found the U.S.
as a Christian nation. I want somebody who puts the ìhumanî in humanistÖpromoting
a love for people instead of allegiance to some Wizard in the Sky. Someone with a passion
for science and discovery and evidence and educationÖfor truth no matter how inconvenient
or politically unpopular that truth might be.
I want a President who respects and honors our military men and women AND who holds in
tremendous regard the deadly-serious consequences of military intervention. Who sees war as
a horrible, last resort, who will pursue every avenue for peace, but who also has the resolve
to put the awesome power of our military into decisive action when those rare and drastic
situations warrant. I want someone who knows when to compromise
and when NOT to compromise. I want someone who doesnít form opinions with focus groups.
Who doesnít speak in bumper stickers. Who talks like real people talk. Who can conduct
a state of the union address that actually says something specific. Who wonít spend
almost half of their first term running around the country holding rallies and giving speeches
convincing us why they should get a second term.
Mostly, justI want somebody different. Somebody who doesnít look comfortable in a suit. Who
doesnít look airbrushedÖpolishedÖmanufacturedÖlike they just shot out of the election machine.
Who reminds you of somebody you know, somebody in your circle, somebody you can relate to,
somebody you admire, someone you can take personally. Not because they have an ìRî
or a ìDî after their name. Or have a catchy slogan. Or are affiliated with a certain church
or denomination. Or because you hate their political opponent. Or because of the color
of their skin, or the number in their bank account, or because they tell you exactly
what you want to hearÖ At the end of the day, in my little utopia,
I want a President that has stood outÖstood aboveÖstood for excellence, but who is also
real people. And the sad thing is, Iíll bet there are
many, many others out there that would love a President that fit a description at least
somewhat like this. But we shake our heads and we say, ìItíll never happen.î Thatís
not how politics works. Thatís not the kind of person who even runs for public office.
They want nothing to do with it. An elected official whoís real, whoís just like you
and me? Who are we kidding? What does our cynicism say about us? About
our political climate? About our country?. Why are we OK with choices that we so often
have to make excuses for? When did it become acceptable to settle for the career politician,
the opportunist, the egomaniac, the zealot, the leftovers, the best of the worst? And
when will we as the electorate finally decide itís time for all of us to expect more?
Think about how youíd answer that question in your own circle. What do you really want
in a President?