Monday, September 11, 2006

What Kind of Person will I Vote For?

It is amazing to me how early the election cycle is beginning this year! We haven't even finished the primaries for 2006, and we're already talking (incessantly) about 2008. But, I think it is important to think about a presidential election far in advance. We won't hear any official candidacy declarations until January (I heard this from one potential candidate's mouth), but I think we should start thinking about it.

Personally, I am tired of blind party loyalty and personality-cult politics. Shouldn't we be thinking deeper about our candidates than what party they belong to... or how good-looking they are? Rather than sit back and let the media decide for me, I think each of us needs to sit down and decide what our ideal presidential candidate looks like. Then, when we see him or her, we should throw all our support behind them.

So, I ask: What kind of a person do I want to be President? I have been talking about this for the last few weeks, it is about time I wrote it down (DISCLAIMER: I use the masculine pronouns [his, he, him] in this post because we have not yet had a serious female presidential candidate... and it is too hard to write "his or her" every time. I strongly believe and hope that we will have a female President someday. But, for now, I will refer to presidents with masculine pronouns.)

First, a President needs to be an EXECUTIVE. The Executive Branch of the US Government is a (pick your adjective[s]: huge, unwieldily, gargantuan, confusing, bureaucratic, scattered, etc.) organization. To be an effective chief executive over one of the most complicated organizations in the world, a President MUST have strong executive experience. Almost without exception, a good Presidential candidate will be a former state governor. In fact, every President since Nixon was a former Governor or former Vice President (Ford was the only exception, and he was never elected). Governors have experience being executives in the public sector. State Government is a perfect place to learn how to deal with the problems a President will face.

With that said, I strongly believe that legislators (Senators or House members) do NOT make good Presidents. I am sure there are (and will be) exceptions. But, think about it for a minute: legislators are NEVER held responsible for their decisions. Their power is in persuasion by committee, not in management. Legislators only take credit for things they did that were good. On the other hand, the President of the United States is the national scapegoat. He MUST be able to take responsibility for every decision he makes (and even some things that are out of his control). And, he must be able to stand up in front of the American people and explain his decisions.

Second, a President needs to be a DECISION MAKER. I was once in a group meeting with President George W. Bush, and he pointed this out as his primary Presidential role. A President must be decisive, even when he does not have all the information. Sometimes, a President must make a decision based upon his gut feeling, or his idea of what is right. This is another place where executive experience is paramount. The President of the United States must be decisive.

Third, a President must be a moral-driven person... that generally favors a President who is religious. This county was founded based on morals--on "self-evident" truths--and I think a President needs to be driven by a high moral status. I think religion is important, but not required, for a President. Religious believe tends to show a commitment to an idea or power greater than self. It doesn't matter to me what religion the President follows. I think we will have a Muslim or Jewish President one day. What matters is how he applies his religious belief to his job. He must be religious, but he must be tolerant of other beliefs. And, he must apply his beliefs wisely as he makes his decisions.

Fourth, a President must love and respect his Wife (or Husband). The office of President of the United States is a commitment to a cause higher than yourself. Marriage is a commitment to a cause higher than yourself. In both institutions, a good President must be humble and put the needs of the other ahead of his own (Humility is not weakness). In our meeting with President Bush (mentioned above), he said something that really caught my attention: "My marriage has improved since I became President." He talked about how important it is to grow together every day in a marriage. And, he said he has had great opportunities to work with his wife and grow closer to her. A President must be committed to his wife. Because, if he is committed to his wife, he is more likely to be committed to ME.

Finally, there are those intangibles that are hard to pin down: trustworthy, honest, respect for the office, respect for people.. I don't have to agree with every single policy a President puts forward, but I want to have some confidence in the way he makes decisions. So, there is always an intangible.

So, as I start looking at the prospective candidates, both Democrat and Republican, there are very few on the horizon that fit this bill.

I assume that we will get the following candidates into the Primary Election Cycle for the 2008:

Hilary Rodham (Clinton)
John Kerry
John Edwards
Al Gore
(there may be a few governors that rise to the surface)

John McCain
Rudy Guliani
Mitt Romney
Condoleezza Rice (doubtful, but maybe)

With that assumption, the clear frontrunner for my vote is Mitt Romney.
1) He has been a very successful executive, both in public and private sectors. He founded the uber-successful venture capital firm Bain Capital and made his fortune by rebuilding less-successful businesses (like Staples and Domino's Pizza). He then went on to resurrect the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics from scandal, turning it into the most successful and profitable Winter Olympics in history. And, for the last 4 years, he has served as Governor of Massachusetts... carefully walking the political line to keep both Liberal and Conservative happy.

2) He is a decision maker. He has done a great job revamping companies and making them successful, so he is obviously a GOOD decision maker. He is confident in his demeanor and seems very decisive. He has the demeanor and executive experience Americans should and do demand from their President. (And look... as I write this, I find out that David Frum agrees with me!)

3) He is a religious and moral-driven man. He is a faithful member of the LDS church. And, as the surprising and impressive site called Evangelicals for Mitt points out, Romney's Mormon-based values are more compatible with Christians than any of the other current "front-runners." He is a real religious man (as opposed to a fake one).

4) Mitt Romney LOVES his Wife. He and Ann appear often together, and I have watched them interact with their 5 boys. He is a family man, and committed to making his family succeed. So far, he has done pretty well. All five boys are happily married and have given him 9 grandchildren. And, he still calls Ann his "high school sweetheart." C'mon... how romantic is that? As a president, his commitment to his wife shows that he will be more committed to his job and to his constituency (in other words... committed to me... and you too). I read recently that since many other major candidates have been divorced or have obviously rocky marriages (cough... Clinton... cough), it is ironic that the Mormon in the race is the one with only one wife! (A reference to the common misconception that Mormons practice polygamy... c'mon people, Warren Jeffs is NOT a Mormon... but I digress...)

5) You should take advantage of opportunities over the next few weeks to WATCH and LISTEN TO Mitt Romney during his various speeches. He has that "intangible" feel to him. I thought Mr. Romney was a very long shot... until I watched him give a speech on C-Span. He knows how to boil the issues of this country down better than anybody else I've seen. His speeches are direct, concise and to the point... and he doesn't wander into platitudes.

So, I'll have to tell you, as I analyze the current presidential race, my vote is quite firmly behind Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican from Massachusetts. Of course, like any responsible citizen, I am looking carefully at who deserves my precious vote in 2008. But, that is what we all should be doing... jumping on a horse and riding it. But, never be afraid to jump on the better horse.

For now: Romney for President 2008. Now, I just need to get a T-Shirt.

That is all.



Nectar said...

Good post. Good points.

My wife was telling me about how recently Mitt Romney refused to spend state government money to protect someone who hates America (as I recall). Let him come and speak, but he wasn't going to spend taxpayer money protecting him. I thought that was great. Sorry, don't have the details.

Horatio said...

Your wife is probably referring to a recent visit by former Iranian President Mohamad Khatami. He was wrongly reported to be the President of Iran (which led me to believe originally that it was Ahmadinejad. But, Former President Khatami came to Boston to speak at Harvard University (and... if I had been anywhere in the region, I would have been there!!).

I think Mitt's statement on the matter was good, but I don't agree with the overall uproar made over Khatami's visit. For Iran, Khatami was a very moderate leader who was trying to introduce democratic reforms. Of course, the Iranian political system caused him to fail at his reform-minded policy. But, it is clear that he is a moderate cleric that may be a key to pushing Iran toward a more free society.

So, I can't say I fully agreed with Governor Romney on his decision. As far as I'm concerned, let the man come and see what we're all about. But, if the Governor decides not to spend State money to protect him, that is his perogative.

Still, I like the way Governor Romney thinks. So, for now, I'm riding the Romney boat.

Ethan said...

I'll agree that Romney is a strong candidate, but of of the big issues for me is abortion. My very fallible understanding of his abortion stance is that he won't touch the topic and that that is the only reason he has been able to be elected as the governor of a very blue state.

Refusing to take a public stand or make any executive decisions is easy to do as a state governor, in my opinion. He can sit back and let the federal government really hadle any changes to the status quo. However, as President, he is going to have to take a stand. I just hope that his non-stance as a governor doesn't imply that he will take an appeasement stance with them as President.

Sporadic said...

My understanding of his stance on abortion is that he personally doesn't favor it, but feels it is the right of the woman to decide.

This is one of those issues where the country is pretty divided. Although I am also extremely against abortion (except in cases where the mother's life is in danger), I can see how he would rather have it as a legal option for people instead of having dangerous illegal operations. (I believe he lost a friend or relative in a situation like that.)

At the very least, I am glad to see that he spoke out against lowering the age at which teenagers don't need parental consent to 16, and he supported a ban on partial-birth abortions.

On another note, as always Horatio, I appreciate your thoughts and ideas, as it makes me rethink my own and always prompts me to research and understand more myself.

Horatio said...

Ethan and Sporadic -

The following came from the DC Examiner this past September 11, 2006.

[begin quoted text]

But Romney may not be considered tough enough on the issue that is of paramount importance to many conservatives: abortion.

When he ran for governor in 2002, he proclaimed: “I believe women should have the right to make their own choice.” But now that he’s considering a run for president, Romney insists: “I’m firmly pro-life.”

“My position has changed,” he acknowledged to The Examiner.

Romney says his epiphany occurred just two years ago, when discussing stem cell research with a pair of experts from Harvard.

“At one point, one of the two said, ‘this is not a moral issue because we kill the embryos at 14 days‚’ ”

Romney recalls. “And I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction, which is it just hit us hard.

“And as they walked out, I said, ‘Beth, we have cheapened the sanctity of life by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality.’ And from that point forward, I said to the people of Massachusetts, ‘I will continue to honor what I pledged to you, but I prefer to call myself pro-life.’ ”

Romney pledged during the campaign not to change the state’s abortion laws, a position that made him more politically palatable in an overwhelmingly pro-choice state. Asked why he would sit out the fight over one of the most important issues of the day, Romney says he preferred to focus on 100 other issues that he had chosen as his platform.

Pressed on whether he should have displayed more leadership on the abortion issue, Romney replies: “You decide which of the things that you’re going to take and you’re going to fight for. And that’s exactly what I did.”

[end quoted text]

Now, to be honest with you, I find that respectable. Abortion is such a hot button issue for so many people, I think he was smart not to make it an issue in Massachusetts. I think he will take a lot of heat from far-right conservatives on this, and I don't think that is fair.

That entire article is pretty impressive. I have to give credit to for that reference.

At the basis, an elected official must represent the people who elect him. And, sometimes, if there is a single issue that is going to keep you from doing a whole lot of other good, I can respect a person who respects the voters.

But, you can see that as he goes for a wider election, he is able to broaden his priorities and take a more significant stand. Massachusetts was not the place to make a stand on abortion. And, to be honest, it was not the place to take a stand on Gay marriage either, but he did! (He wrote a GREAT Wall Street Journal Editorial on the subject. Very cool... this was what started me thinking that Romney has a chance).

Anyways, those are my thoughts.

That is all.


Horatio said...

As a side note... I think my next post will be on Abortion. I've just been thinking about it recently... and I feel a rant coming on. Stay tuned.

Nectar said...

Interesting comments.

I have a question for you. Do you think that the Church will be under attack from the media if Mitt Romney runs for president? Will we see the Democrats, and perhaps the mainstream press, try to discredit the Church in order to make Romney look bad?

The reason I ask this question is because of something I read this week on another blog. The blog writer is Sinthyia. who has the notoriety of being the top Answerer on Yahoo! Answers for Society & Culture. I checked out her blog http://sinthyia In her July 25 blog she comments on "Romney for President" She claims that if Romney runs for office there will be all those reporters digging up dirt about the Church, supposedly showing us "a great many skeletons in its' closet that it has carefully hidden from view for many years." Sinthyia is filled with misinformation about the church, and shw doesn't seem careful to find out the truth. I wonder how many others will act the way she does.

I guess we shouldn't worry about the liars, the truth can't hurt us, and the publicity will only encourage people to find out for themselves. (Let the bells of hell ring.) But I wonder if they will take the word of people like Sinthyia. What do you think?

Horatio said...


To be honest, I really don't think the LDS Church has any serious skeletons to be dug up. I'm sure there will be a lot of random criticism, but I'm hoping that people will focus more on policy ideas rather than cheap politics. But, that may be an idle hope.

I actually think the whole Mormon problem is being dealt with early and well. And, the LDS Church has improved it's public relations setup very well in the last decade. While news organizations still ignore their own style guides with reference to the Church, there is a pretty effective system setup to answer questions. Things like and are good resources to answer questions.

So, I am not too scared that a Romney presidency will put negative pressure or focus on the LDS Church. And, under the current leadership, I think the church will just keep doing what it is doing.

That is all.