What kind of president would Donald Trump make? What kind of president would Hillary Clinton make? What kind of president would Ted Cruz make? What kind of president would Bernie Sanders make? What kind of president would any of the candidates running this year make?
We can’t really know what kind of a president any candidate would make until they are actually doing the job or not doing it as the case may be. Yet that’s the question we have to ask and then answer to the best of our ability because the American people — or those of us who bother to vote — will choose the next president.
It is a responsibility we should not take lightly and we should not shirk no matter how difficult it is trying to see into the hearts and minds of the men and women asking for our votes and into the future.
One must instead rely on what a person reveals about what’s in their heart and mind to us. Looking into another person’s heart and mind is easy compared to trying to look into the future. So when it comes to trying to determine what sort of leader a candidate for president will make we are truly looking through a glass darkly.
So how do we choose a president?
One option is to look at their record, even though what they’ve done in the past is not always a guide to what they will do in the future or how successful they will be.
A case in point is Lyndon Johnson, the epitome of the professional politician who spends practically his whole life in government, including elected public office. By the time he became president in 1963, Johnson, in Texas and in Washington, D.C., had spent over 30 years in government service, including more than a quarter of a century in elective office including 12 years in the U.S. House, 12 in the U.S. Senate, and almost three as vice president.
In three decades of public service, Johnson had become a master of the political process and the levers of power, amassing an impressive record in Congress. On paper, Johnson, when he took the oath of office as president, promised to be an incredibly effective and successful president and, to be fair, when it came to getting legislation through Congress, no president was probably more successful at doing so.
Nevertheless, Johnson’s presidency was a disaster, taking what in 1963 had been a successful, stable, wealthy, powerful, united and confident nation and leaving it in 1969, the year he left office, a failing, enfeebled, divided, and demoralized society on its way toward bankruptcy.
Then, of course, there is Barack Obama, whose rise to the presidency can only be described as meteoric, especially when compared to Johnson’s.
Like Johnson, Obama has spent practically his entire adult life in the public sector, beginning with his days as a community organizer and continuing through his service in Illinois Legislature and then the U.S. Senate before gaining the nation’s highest elective office.
When he was elected, Obama was a freshman senator whose record of legislative achievement was, understandably, far less than Johnson’s given that he was only in the Senate three years compared to Johnson’s 24 years in Congress.
Obama’s rise to the presidency is one of a triumph of image over experience and legislative achievement. It was due to a majority of the voting electorate projecting their hopes and dreams onto a candidate who they thought would turn things around for this nation.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and Obama’s legacy will be one of the further bankruptcy, division, demoralization, and enfeeblement of an America that was already beset by the problems set in motion by Johnson’s presidency.
Whoever he or she is, the next president will have to begin the process of digging out from under the mess that began under Johnson and has gotten considerably worse under Obama. The question, is how do we determine which of the candidates for president will at least try to do this if elected?
I suggest listening to what the candidates say about the issues — and doing your own research on both the candidates and those issues — and asking yourself the following questions:
• Is the candidate actually saying what’s on their mind or are they saying what their campaign consultants are telling them to say and/or what their corporate and other big money donors are telling them they’d better say?
• Does what the candidate says reflect the realities of the world around us or is it happy talk that presents a rose colored glass view of the world designed to appease the politically correct left and their corporate counterparts?
• Would the candidate be more likely, if elected, to take the difficult, painful steps necessary to address the problems facing this nation or will they simply continue on with more of the same policies that’s destroying it?
So how, you may ask, do you answer those questions? That, as they say, is another column.
Charles Warner is a staff writer for The Union Times and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.