Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone and they just yawned? The conversation is over in an instant without the other person saying a nasty word.
In a sense, that’s what we as citizens need to do with the individuals who are declaring their candidacy for president of the United States some twenty-two months prior to the next quadrennial election. It’s not that they have nothing to say now; it’s that they have much better things to do with their time, but are wrapped in an artificial time-warp and won’t let themselves out.
Imagine that you are applying for a job that doesn’t start for nearly 700 days and during that time you can’t do anything to prepare yourself mentally, psychologically and physically for the challenges. Instead, you are in a very narrow tunnel where you are must act in an artificial fashion, pretending to be natural. We call that campaigning.
It’s that way because whether they believe it not, most voters are looking for image rather than substance in their candidates. Do they feel the chemistry? Do they connect? Do they believe them?
Under better circumstances, these would be reasonable expectations. But when candidates have to go on autopilot from the time that they announce until they retire from politics, voters are not getting the real thing. Instead, they generally get candidates who are often psychologically on edge and often mentally not prepared to be president. Just look at who we have had for over the past fifty years.
- Richard Nixon – not terribly stable
- Gerald Ford – not that bright
- Jimmy Carter – okay, but a little uptight
- Ronald Reagan – not that bright
- George H.W. Bush – not that bright
- Bill Clinton – dealing with a lot of issues
- George W. Bush – not very bright at all
- Barack Obama – ABOUT AS STABLE AND INTELLIGENT AS YOU CAN GET
- Donald Trump – extremely lacking
I do not mean to imply that those who were lacking would have been okay had they not been in an endless campaign prior to becoming president. But I do think that the population of people who could be excellent presidents is greatly reduced because of the undesirability of excessive campaigning. During the year before the election, who wouldn’t rather have time to take walks, be with family, and judiciously study the issues and meet with other citizens who can broaden their horizons?
We would great expand the pool of qualified candidates that we would have for president if campaigns started no earlier than the January of election year. We would be even better if they did not start until April and we condensed regional primaries into May – July, with public financing so that time would not have to be wasted on fund raising.
Today’s candidates are not going to willfully slow down the system. But if we only pay tepid attention to what they are saying now and refuse all their pleas for money, we might put ourselves in position for a much wider range of qualified candidates in the future.