I don’t care (right now) about WHO the next President is; I care about WHAT the next President is.
From the diaries by Erick.
Harold Stassen ran for President every quadrennial between 1948 and 2000. Why? What would cause a man to do such a thing?
Quite probably because he’d tasted the sweet essence of victorious electoral power, first as a county prosecutor, and then as Governor of Minnesota. He thus served from 1940 to 1943. He played the role of a minor king-maker at the 1940 GOP convention, and this might have sparked his Quixotic, life-long quest.
So, for every Presidential election until 2004, Harold Stassen’s name was on ballot. Of course, in the meantime, he managed to run for various other offices, including Governor of Pennsylvania (twice), US representative, senate, mayor, and quite probably drain commissioner, for all I know. He lost every contest after 1940. But, rather like the Energizer Bunny, Harold kept on running. And running. Stassen became the butt of jokes.
Every seeker of the Presidency has a chord or two of Harold Stassen sluicing through them. What makes them run? It certainly isn’t a cheap hobby; in some states, the filing fees alone run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Abraham Lincoln ran when he saw an opening in the national dialog, and he had secured a significant nest-egg as a successful corporate lawyer. Harry Truman ran because he had nothing much else to do. But what about a Mike Huckabee, or a Tim Pawlenty (-who, in a nod to Harold Stassen, is Governor of Minnesota)?
And the most important question: How do these private yearnings equate to public leadership?
I know who I WISH would run: But, sadly, my wishes have about as much to do with Presidential Politics as the color of my bathroom wallpaper. Further, it isn’t even WHO I wish would run, but WHAT…
I don’t want Harold Stassen, the man who wants to be President so badly he’s willing to sacrifice his very person, and make himself a fool. Of course, the Political Science colleges are pumping out modern equivalencies of Stassen at an alarming rate, and our state legislatures are crammed with Stassens: folks who want to be elected for the simple desire to be elected . Most of them start out at age 23, convinced they are the next coming of JFK, and proceed on that basis, without regard to what they actually believe, if anything, or what they have accomplished, if anything. Our current occupant of the White House is just such a person. So was Bill Clinton.
No, I want a person with deep, abiding, unbreakable integrity. I want them to have a solid, gentle, and yet stern personality that is expressed the same it they are talking to a waitress or a Sultan. I want them to know both intellectually and spiritually that they are a creation of a loving Lord that only desires a personal, heart-felt relationship with them. I want a President to grin when asked about their faith, and they respond "well, you can determine the extent of my faith by witnessing the fruits of my life, what ever they may be".
I want a President that has a solid, unassailable track record at negotiation leadership. I want a President that knows the Constitution backwards and forwards, even when it’s held up to a mirror. I want a President that has substantive life experiences well beyond politics, and government, and academia. I want a President who is not a product of today’s hyper-urban chic.
I want a president who is a thorough-going conservative, almost a progressive-traditionalist, if I may coin a term. I want a person who is so rock-solid in their understanding of the correctitude of government-in-the-background, and the utter destructiveness of advocacy government.
I want a person who inspires by their own work ethic. I want a person that genuinely tears up and sometimes has to sing the National Anthem though a constricted windpipe. I want a President that looks at the members of our Armed Forces and knows —knows — they are magnificent human beings, that this person is honored to be in the same room with them, and humbly someday may command. I want a President that has had to mortgage their house to make a payroll, believing without reservation that their hard work would make it all work out.
I don’t much care how, or if, or for how long, a President might have been in Government, elected or not. Yeah, if might mean they have a built-in constituency, but that doesn’t matter for a real leader. Think Eisenhower.
I want a President that has lived in the middle part of the country, at least for a season of their lives: there is something surreal about life in the coastal cities. I want a President that has read both Gibbon and Mark Steyn, and breezily laughs off the critiques of the New York Times. I want a physically active president, with a loving family, and lots and lots of lifelong friends that vouch for their character. I want a Margaret Thatcher, or a Benjamin Netanyau–, or their American equivalents.
At this point, I don’t really care much WHO this person IS. I do, though, care a great deal about WHAT this person is. Are there any folks out there like this… that aren’t Harold Stassen?