Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Presidential Qualifications

Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried. (Winston Churchill)

Every four years in this country we elect a president – sadly, often on the basis of irrelevant characteristics. Charisma gets votes. So does good hair and the ability to act like one of the regular folk. A talent for believable deception can also help. Sometimes people vote for a candidate because of race or sex, claiming that it time for black or woman president. Then, once the president takes office, none of those characteristics does anything to help the economy, stop terrorists, control crime, or any of the other things we expect from a president. The same can be said of congressional representatives, governors, mayors, and other elected officials. Voters should decide on the basis of real qualification, not superficial things like charisma.

“Timothy Judge of the University of Florida business school says that being an extrovert is correlated with being chosen as a leader, but not with being a good leader. “We go for these effervescent leaders when what's really needed is a dull, focused, plodding [type] building effective groups and organizations.”1

Leadership requires two distinct but unrelated abilities. First and most important, the leader must make wise decisions. Second, he must motivate people to act on those decisions. Motivation without wisdom only leads people to Hell faster. It is the demagogue, the potential tyrant, who is most likely to motivate without wisdom.

“Charisma attracts votes. It also causes people to act without thinking. Extroverts are the people likely to win elections, but not the most likely to make good decisions. The only possible solution is for voters to pay more attention to substance and less to image.” (From my book, Freedom or Serfdom? Page 259)

Today, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appear to be by far the leading aspirants for the presidential nomination of their respective parties. Both reached that position on the basis of irrelevancies. Hillary gains much support from those who believe we should have a woman president. Trump is a master of publicity. In my opinion, neither is qualified to be president. Once we look beyond the superficial, there is little there. Hillary, asked about her accomplishments as secretary of state, could not name even one. Trump, claiming to be a conservative, has proposed increases in government power by such things as government control of health care. I've not heard either of them praise limited, constitutional government.

Another problem with politicians is that they are usually convincing talkers. Yet when we look at their actions we often find those actions unrelated to promises.
I urge voters to look at not only the promises but the record of politicians. Avoid government by the silver tongue, by promises etc. People can lie with words much more easily than they can deceive with actions.

1 U.S. News and World Report, November 2009, p26

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