Musing on…Presidential Expectations

As we close in on February 5th’s “Super Tuesday”, when the presidential races will either tighten or be all but decided, I came across a headline that said in a poll the public had “Big Expectations For New President.” Me, being me, couldn’t help but wonder, what are my expectations for the new president?

First, it should be very clear that I have no illusions about what any president can legally and ethically accomplish. Unless the person in the oval office chooses to abuse their power, the fact of the matter is that most of the things which have a direct bearing on we huddled masses come from Congress. Even so, the president sets the tone for the debate.

I expect the new president to be less bratty. I think most of our international friends and foes are hoping for the same. There once was a time, not so long ago, when the United States was looked upon as not only a force for keeping the peace, but also a force for morality. It’s amazing how quickly political myopia and diplomatic prejudice can make that lighthouse beacon dim. In this, I hope the next president can start mending the fences that have been battered by years of storm and neglect. It’s time that our elected leader shows that we respect the systems of others and don’t summarily reject them just because they are different.

I expect the new president to be less fearful. Our 32nd president wisely remarked that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Sadly our 43rd president seems to have heard that the only thing we have is to fear. I want courage in a leader, not cowering. Does it suck that we were attacked? Majorly…yeah. Are we going to be attacked again? Almost certainly, at some point. Thing is, are we big enough to suffer the occasional bloody nose, or are we constantly going to either run and hide in a closet, or attack someone else who is weaker like some schoolyard bully?

I expect the new president to be a good Commander-in-chief. Yes, we still have a mess in Iraq of our own doing that we have to help clean up, but I’m hopeful that most of our men and women in uniform will be back home soon, getting all the help they need to again learn how not to be soldiers. I want the next president to stop picking fights and instead prepare for what might come. That means we need to take a respite from war. We need to rebuild our military to the realities of the current global model. I would also hope that the next president would press Congress to prevent future presidents from repurposing the National Guard as some form of back-up global force. That isn’t their job. Their job is to be a domestic force when we are attacked by either man or nature. They aren’t just toy soldiers to be moved around in some bizarre Situation Room version of the game of Risk.

I expect the next president to reject deficit spending as a sound budget strategy. We’ve done it twice now, and we’ve proven that it just doesn’t work. It serves only to make the rich richer and the middle class poorer. The government can’t bleed money and expect our economy to be sound. There’s a balance between spending and income that is expected of civilians, and it should be expected from the government. Now, stuff happens and the government is bound to fall off the budget from time-to-time. Even so, I think the time has come to stop all of the accounting tricks and start being honest about what government spends versus what it takes in. None of this off-budget stuff (expect for “black” items, of course). Congress would have to legislate that, but a president could rouse the people to expect the government to be fiscally honest in its reporting (stop laughing…anything at this point would be an improvement).

I expect the next president to have high expectations of the public. If we hold our leaders up to high standards, then we should also have to look in the same mirror. Things like the current mortgage crisis and stuff. Things that aren’t borne out of total corruption (e.g. the S&L crisis) and instead are the result of people not reading their contracts and being honest about what they can afford, need to be considered very, very carefully.

I expect the next president to govern in good faith. That means making choices not because the polls say so, but because the choices are what are in the best interests of the country. The person in the west wing has a responsibility to lead the country…not just the majority. The president also has the responsibility to consider posterity. It’s often better to ask, “What will history say?” versus “How will this hurt my re-election chances?”

I expect the next president to keep the Supreme Court as balanced as possible. When the court swings too far to the left or right it’s never a great thing for America. Justice should be even-handed, and that should also be reflected in the court. Trying to “pack” the court is just political skulduggery and should never be tolerated.

So…I guess my expectations (those listed are just the tip of the iceberg) are pretty high, too — fantastical, some would say. Realistically, I’m just hoping the next president isn’t some refugee from Baum’s land of Oz. As long as our leader has a brain, heart, and courage (and maybe even a little dog, too), then we are probably getting better than we deserve.

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