History Remembering Presidents

There is an interesting phenomenon which U.S. presidents are remembered. It’s typically the presidents who had momentous events occur during their presidencies. Abraham Lincoln had the Civil War and was assassinated. FDR had the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, and WWII. JFK was assassinated. Truman gave the go-ahead for the atomic bombs. George Washington was the first president and a great Revolutionary War general. Others come quickly to mind but presidencies in which there were wars and huge catastrophes tend to be the most salient.

This is why, like him or not, Pres. George W. Bush will be better-remembered than Pres. Clinton. I’m not comparing their presidencies or their performance; I’m just predicting who will be better-remembered in 100 or 200 years. Pres. Bush had 9-11 and the Iraq War. Pres. Clinton gets a little boost with his impeachment but what else happened during the 90s? It was a relatively quiet period of prosperity. History doesn’t easily remember prosperity. It remembers Alexander the Great, who conquered nations; it remembers Julius Caesar, who conquered nations; it remembers, Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered nations.

So, again, whether or not you like Pres. Bush, history will remember him more than Pres. Clinton and a lot of other U.S. Presidents. Of course, no one will forget James K. Polk either and his presidency was pretty quiet (That’s actually not true. Polk was quite an effective President and did a lot of good for the country).

Who Should Win the Primaries

I have to admit, for a while I started liking Hillary Clinton. Her political views seemed more moderate than the other Democratic contenders and she seemed to get the political system. However, that turned out to be her downfall. She’s too political, too power-hungry, too driven to succeed. Some people may feel that those are essential traits in a successful politician but to me, it reveals too much about her character. I don’t feel like I can trust her. Granted, I don’t know her personally but after watching her for 8 years as the First Lady and watching her as a Senator and as a potential presidential nominee, she’s had too many scandals, too many revelations about her character for me to feel like I can trust her.

Sen. Clinton also attacks other candidates about their lack of experience. Experience (or the lack thereof) is not the problem, the problem is too much “experience.” We have too many career politicians. We need more leaders like George Washington who stated,

“The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn.” (Source).

He was a reluctant president. He did his job with all his heart but he was eager to return to a private life after 8 years. As long as there have been governments, there have been career politicians. However, this is no excuse for our country to have career politicians. Not all career politicians are bad, obviously, but it is too easy for those in power to love their power and seek more power. It is the love of power and control that undermines democracy.

Political experience can be beneficial to public service but you do not need political experience to be a successful political leader, even the President. That is why I have to laugh at Sen. Clinton’s attacks on other candidates for their “lack of experience.” They would be a breath of fresh air in our stagnant political landscape.

Additionally, as stated above, it’s hard to trust Sen. Clinton. I feel like I can trust Barack Obama – he seems sincere. I feel like I can trust John Edwards too but I’m having a hard time trusting Hillary Clinton. Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all have essentially the same stance on the major issues so the differences between them are minor. Thus, it is hard for issues to be the deciding factor for me. As an aside – I do not care if politicians change their mind about issues. It is good to change your mind when there is a good reason to do so (e.g., new evidence that you were mistaken). I don’t think people should change their positions in response to every little wind but having a willingness to change, if necessary is important. Whatever choice you make or whatever your stance is, take a strong stand and run with it but don’t be afraid to change course. Again, I don’t care if candidates have changed or will change their opinions (it’s a problem if they vacillate though).

Of the current three Democratic candidates, I have to put my support behind Barack Obama because he is quite new to politics (and probably not yet jaded by politics), he seems trustworthy, and he comes across as someone who will make measured and informed decisions as president.

Now for the Republican candidates. I have a hard time trusting Rudy Giuliani. He comes across as maneuvering and manipulative. I think Sen. McCain is fine. He’s been in politics for a long time so there is always a little baggage but he’s even-handed and would do well as president. However, the two Republican candidates who I think would be the best are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Mitt Romney practices what he preaches. He is trustworthy, sincere, and successful. His background in business, specifically venture capitalism, and with the Salt Lake Olympics demonstrates that he is fiscally responsible. We need someone who can be fix our national debt (that’s another thing Pres. Washington despised – debt). Mitt is a good family man as well. He’s changed his views on a few issues but as I stated above, I don’t have a problem with that – I think it is commendable to be willing to change. However, if he (or anyone else) kept changing back and forth many times, that would be a problem. He’s been involved in politics (i.e., around it – with his father) for quite a while but he’s spent most of his life in the private sector. He also would be a great negotiator with other nations – able to take a strong stand but doing so with warmth.

Ron Paul is another good choice for president, although for different reasons than Mitt Romney. He is sincere and consistent. He seems like he is trustworthy. He abhors our bloated bureaucracy and hopes to steer us back towards the government of our Founding Fathers. While I think both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney would be fiscally responsible, they have different approaches. Ron Paul would reform taxes and scale back the government. Unfortunately, I don’t think he could win. His ideas are too “radical” (as ironic as that is) for most people. I think, if elected, he would do the best he could to help us reform the government and cut back waste and pork. He’s intelligent and thoughtful and honest. Ron Paul would also fight for our liberties.

To me, character, honesty, and integrity are important in a President. That’s why I can’t endorse Hillary Clinton but could endorse Barack Obama. It is why I can’t endorse Rudy Giuliani but could endorse Mitt Romney or Ron Paul.

After the primaries, I would love to see a run-off between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. That way voting would not feel like selecting the lesser of two evils.

Political Blog

This is a new blog where I’ll post my thoughts about and reactions to the various presidential candidates as well as other thoughts about politics in general. I’ll try to provide balanced and thoughtful commentary concerning the morass that is the U.S. political system.