A topic of conversation at nearly every event I have attended since the presidential rat race began is each political party’s presidential candidates. Invariably, whenever someone mentions one of the current front runners in either party, someone else in the gathering objects because of that particular candidate’s alleged baggage. Every candidate in the field has baggage in their political or personal past that offends someone else. There are no perfect candidates running for president on either side of the political spectrum. It’s unfortunate, but it is reality.
Here are some examples of how the baggage claims usually unfold.
Hillary Clinton’s baggage is her husband Bill Clinton and her ill-conceived, socialized HillaryCare program that she now wants to resurrect if she becomes president. Barack Obama’s parents may or may not have enrolled him in a Muslim school early in his life; he is too inexperienced; his great-great-great-great maternal grandfather owned slaves. John Edwards made his millions as a trial lawyer; he wants to resurrect the war on poverty and he now thinks he speaks for Jesus on the state of American compassion.
On the Republican baggage carousel, Rudy Giuliani has been married too many times; he’s not socially conservative enough; and his grown son does not think he was a good dad. John McCain is too old; he’s divisive and, if you believe the push-polling from the 2000 South Carolina primary race, he adopted a black child. Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper on the social issues; he’s Mormon; and his hair is too perfectly groomed.
We have to elect a president, so pick the one whose baggage offends you the least. But try to select a candidate with a history and prospect of leadership. If we try real hard to remember that the presidential candidates are human and as fallible as the rest of us, we might identify something about each to suggest the qualities required to lead and inspire our country.
Hillary Clinton’s number one priority is universal, socialized health care. Her second priority is to take corporate profits to pay for it. Barack Obama’s number one priority is universal, socialized health care, although his political rhetoric is not as divisive as most of his opponents. John Edwards’ number one priority is universal, socialized health care. His second priority is a not-so-unifying theme of Two Americas.
Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City. He led a successful economic turnaround, returned some fiscal sanity to city government, fought crime and inspired civic pride. He is best known for his impressive leadership during the 9/11 attacks. John McCain is a patriotic war hero, has served in the Senate a long time and knows how it works. Unfortunately, he also knows how to obstruct and increase government’s scope. Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, where he attempted to balance the state’s budget and keep taxes in check. But he also signed into law a socialized health care system, which is already on intensive care.
Most of the presidential candidates have questionable leadership credentials, and less-than-inspiring prospects for addressing public policy with common sense solutions. The eventual president will also be elected by, at best, 50 percent of the registered voters. Probably only half of those will vote for a candidate based on substance. The other half will instead choose the candidate whose baggage they dislike the least.
In the short time we have left before the nomination process ends in early February, let’s look more closely at those candidates who are not afraid to talk about the programs that most challenge our nation’s future. More importantly, consider the candidates who are not afraid to offer real solutions. Presidential leadership requires identifying and working on the right problems, instead of best imitating a Southern accent.
Let’s take a close look at candidates who are able to inspire people to focus on the pursuit of happiness, instead of happiness as defined by the next government program. Individual responsibility is not a foreign concept to those who are already achieving their American dream.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that members of Congress necessarily have the ability to fill Washington, D.C.’s vast leadership void. Congress was not designed to be a leadership body. The legislative branch has consistently demonstrated that fact by oftentimes ignoring even the simplest solutions for the sake of power and re-election.
We need a leader in the White House who is not afraid to hijack the Washington bureaucracy, and courageous enough to smartly challenge politics as usual in Congress.
The American people want a president who will truly lead this nation with the people’s hopes and trust in a new suitcase, and who will leave his or her baggage at home.