Can your candidate keep up in fast changing world? (Whipple)

There are a slew of presidential candidates at this point. It seems a bit early to lock in on any particular candidate as “the one,” but here are some questions that might help to winnow the field. For convenience, the candidate under consideration will in each case be referred to as “Candidate X.”

1. Was Candidate X born before 1960 (making him/her over 57 on taking office in 2017 and over 65 at the end of a two-term presidency)? We live in a rapidly changing world, increasingly dependent on electronic devices and digital networks that didn’t exist a few years ago, and the rate of change is accelerating. What are road maps? What do you mean, you don’t know how to send a text message? This test would conveniently identify candidates who might have trouble keeping up.

2. What has Candidate X accomplished in life, which arguably qualifies him/her for the highest office in the land? It’s not necessarily true that executive experience (e.g., state governor) outweighs legislative experience (e.g., U.S. senator), but the point should be considered. Also, give greater weight to current activities than to things that were done years ago.

3. Do you like where Candidate X stands on the issues? A perfect match with your own thinking is not to be expected, but see if you can think of two or three cases in which he/she has proposed a solid solution to an important problem – not just “what” should be done, but also “why” and “how.” Deduct points for bombast, like “I’d build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it.”

4. Does Candidate X recognize that the budgetary trend-line of the US government is unsustainable, and if so how does he/she say the problem should be addressed? Look for proposals to cut wasteful spending, of which there is a great deal in a nearly $4 trillion annual budget, with the cuts to start now rather than at some undefined point in the future. And if the answer is “don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree,” watch out!

5. Does Candidate X fit the profile of a leader or a ruler? Leaders listen, negotiate, and inspire. Rulers simply want to tell others what to do, and we’ve had more than enough of that lately.

6. Candidate X may be quick on the uptake and a smooth talker, but would you buy a used car from him/her? If not, it doesn’t make much sense to trust Candidate X with the future of our country.

William Whipple III

This letter was submitted in response to an invitation for readers to explain who “they would pick to be the next president of the United States." Six entries were published on August 23; the other five writers supported specific candidates: Ben Carson (2), Bernie Sanders (2), and either Joe Biden or Carly Fiorina (1).
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