A Modest Proposal for Training Future Presidents
If God got fed up with us -- and who would blame Him -- and stepped down, would we want an extensive, well-thought-out process for picking a successor? Would we want to make sure whomever we elected to rule the universe was someone we know to be responsible with the power over life and death and who wouldn't just smite people because he's bored?
And would we want to make sure he has a good understanding of physics so we know he won't mess with Planck's constant and destroy all matter? Or would we just pick someone off the street and say, "Hey. He seems nice. Let's give him ultimate power over us all"?
Well, the American presidency is the next most powerful job after God, what with running the world's most powerful nation and the ability to kill billions. You'd think we'd have a very solid process for figuring out the best person to fill the position, but we have been completely clueless on this for more than two hundred and thirty years. And the Founding Fathers weren't much help on the task of picking a president, only listing two qualifications: he or she has to be thirty-five years old and has to have been born in this country. Nowadays, that limits the pool of potential applicants to about two hundred million people. Luckily we have a two-party system which somehow uses New Hampshire and Iowa to whittle down all the choices to two.
And we still have no idea how to decide.
In the current election, for example, people say they think Barack Obama would be a good president because he's inspirational, but if you want inspiration, can't you buy books or tape sets for that? Others say John McCain has the experience to be president, but experience at what? He's been in the Senate a long time, but what do they do there? Vote on stuff? You could get the same experience just clicking on a lot of internet polls.
We even debate over which candidate will better improve the economy, which is kind of like trying to choose from a litter of kittens based on which one is best at controlling the weather (hint: it's usually the calico). It's like we don't even know what a president does. No huge corporation is going to hire a CEO just because they just like the cut of his jib; they're going to want a solid resume showing that the applicant is already experienced doing similar work.
And there's the rub. As they say, there is no job like the presidency.
Except that isn't true. There are actually hundreds of people out there whose jobs involve both executive experience and foreign policy experience. People who have to lead both citizens and the military.
They're called the leaders of foreign countries.
If someone running for president told you of how he turned Uruguay into a powerhouse while fighting off a coup, then he'd have a pretty excellent argument that he would do a good job running America.
Someone who has led another nation could run point by point on all the duties you'd expect a U.S. president to perform and show how he excelled at handling that already at a smaller scale. And it's not like there are a small number of foreign leaders to pick from. Scientists estimate that there are nearly two hundred countries in the world, and almost all of them have a leader of some sort.
So am I saying we should elect a foreign leader as our president? No, of course not. That's insane. Also, if you were paying attention earlier, foreign leaders all happen to not meet our very lax qualifications for being president by being from other countries. Plus, if they're child emperors, they're out on two counts. But what if we got other countries to let Americans who want to one day be president of the U.S. to try leading them first? Then we'd have Americans with the exact experience necessary for leading the most powerful nation on Earth.
Would other nations go for this arrangement? They'd be fools not to. It's been like a hundred years since any nation has come even close to rivaling the U.S. of A., so obviously those whom other countries have been making their leaders haven't been cutting it. Plus, everyone keeps saying how the American presidency is the most important job in the world, so why wouldn't they want to contribute to our process of picking the person who fills that seat? Plus they know the people we send will do their absolute best, since they're trying out for the top spot. Even if those people don't go on to become the American president, it still could improve our relations with other countries and help us with other problems. Why, if we got someone to turn Mexico into a paradise, there goes our illegal immigration problem.
It just makes sense for everyone involved, but if other nations are stubborn and don't see it that way, I remind you that America can be very charismatic when it wants to be. Iraq and Afghanistan weren't so hot on us invading them when it first came up, but they seem relatively okay with it now. We just have to tell other countries we're going to send our highly motivated people to run them, and if they do a bad job and screw everything up, we'll send more foreign aid. It's win-win.
Yes, I know, sending Americans to run other countries is going to get called "imperialism," but that's kinda becoming a tired line these days. Invading a nation that attacked us is "imperialism." Overthrowing a murderous dictator is "imperialism." Building a giant, planet-destroying space station is "imperialism." Fine. Whatever. There are worse things than imperialism. And when you're trying to find the right person to lead the most powerful nation in the world, if a little imperialism is what we need, then so be it.
And that's what it comes down to: We can take a common-sense approach to finding the right person to lead the United States of America by forcing other countries to take our politicians as their leaders, or we can use the same broken system we've always used, rolling the dice every four years on an unknown quantity to be in charge of our nuclear arsenal because he seems like a nice guy. Well, if he's so nice, what exactly does he want all those weapons for?
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