Every year, around my birthday, I become thoughtful about where I am and where I'm going. This year, I remembered that I will be old enough to run for the 2024 US Presidential election. While the idea of being the Commander in Chief is fascinating, as any position with power and prestige naturally is, I don't see myself called in that direction. Upon further reflection, It is completely crazy what we ask the President to do and only an insane person would seek to gain that office.
For instance, we expect the President to expertly address the political implications of any topic at any time. Those topics could range from Industry to Agriculture, from Science to Art, and from Weather to Religion. This is all within our own country; Foreign affairs takes all of these topics and compounds them. On top of that, we citizens are constantly getting surface-level information on all these topics through emails, videos, radio, or podcasts. This often triggers us to exhibit the Dunning-Kruger effect, insisting that we know exactly what the President ought to do and getting upset when he doesn't do it.
When we decide to replace the previous President, one thing that we tend to forget (probably due to how uncomfortable the knowledge is) is that the next President will only be slightly better or slightly worse than ourselves. As much as we try to set up a path to the Presidency where only a man or woman of the highest merit is elected, the only ones who will be available are those which we have educated ourselves. This means that if we previously selected a lousy president, how can we be sure that the next president we elect will be any better?
How do we get out of this conundrum? We have to step away from the immediate problems that we face and understand the background and history of the people in the country and how their actions led to the problems of the day. This allows for us to perceive the actual state of the country and bring alignment between that and the political order. This understanding enables a person who has an incomplete knowledge of the particulars to maneuver among the political challenges thrown his or her way since personal reaction and public opinion will be easier to predict. At the same time, this understanding can only be developed through intense study that most people cannot undertake due to their focusing on their careers and interests.
In addition, how this understanding is leveraged in moving or reacting to Public Opinion still doesn't handle whether such an action will improve or worsen the status quo. Public Opinion may believe a course of action is good when it will end disastrously, and no amount of pleading will change that belief. Overcoming this involves the hard work of setting good standards and persuading all citizens (including yourself) to observe them. By standards, I mean "what things are valued and in what order."* These standards must be measured against the standard of the human person, that is, whether they make a man more of a man or less of a man, and whether they make a woman more of a woman or less of a woman.
I should get off my soapbox. I have strong beliefs in what good standards should be followed by the United States but lack a deep understanding and the political experience to be able to put them into effect. Putting me into the Oval Office would likely do more harm than good. I'll stick with praying that God helps us elect the President we need rather than the President we deserve.
*I'm very grateful to Society and Sanity by Frank Sheed for helping me with this reflection.