In order to sort out this mess being called as an “election” and “campaigns”, I was doing some more reading about McCain, Palin, Obama and Biden. That's when I got to thinking: What makes for a good politician?
When I began to think about it, it became a much more difficult question to answer. After all, there have not been many candidates in my lifetime who I would label as “good” politicians. So I started thinking about the qualities an ideal politician would possess in order for me to actually endorse them:
- Honesty – Insert your politician jokes here, because dishonesty is what has become expected of today's politicians. Wouldn't it be nice if somebody followed through on their campaign promises (or even attempted to follow through)?
- Integrity – I'm less interested in finding a candidate who is trying to ride the waves of public opinion than I am in finding a candidate who will stand up for what they believe in. Don't appease me by telling me what you think I want to hear, but have your own opinions and stick to them. If I wanted someone in office who was just going to do what I asked, I'd vote for myself.
- Patriotism – Is is so hard to ask for a politician who puts the best interests of the community, state or country ahead of their own political careers or legacy? My ideal politician would make an unpopular decision that benefited their constituents, even if it ruined their career.
- Intelligence – While our last several Presidents have had the educational pedigree, it seems pretty clear that none have been anything close to a “scholar”. Ideally, a good politician will have excelled in their schooling and used it to help them make their decisions instead of having to rely so heavily on “advisors”, “advocates” and “lobbyists”.
- Fiscal Experience – The ideal politician should manage money well, because fiscal matters are very central to much of today's politics, especially in terms of debt management. If they can't keep their own credit score above 700, they probably aren't fit to manage millions (or billions) of public dollars.
- Reasonable – Nobody can change the world overnight, and a good politician should realize that. In the long run, there's very little that a President can accomplish in an eight-year term, let alone only four years. They should still have high goals, but be realistic about what can be accomplished in the time they have, and be open with the public about how their plans are coming. Even if some changes may not be seen until long after their terms (like energy changes for the future), they should at least get the ball rolling.
- Charasmatic – A good politician should make you want to follow them, and deliver the great speeches that many of us yearn for. However, this is at the bottom of my list because I will not sacrafice any of the above for someone who is simply a good speaker.
I admit, it's a difficult list to live up to, but shouldn't politicians be striving to do just that? Unfortunately, the current candidates clearly don't fit the bill, and I'd be hard-pressed to say that any of the Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates possess even half these qualities…but that doesn't mean we have to leave the bar low.
Are their any other traits you'd like to see in your ideal politician?