Presidential Criteria

Our Presidential selection system remains irrational. Looking to the Founding for advice doesn’t help us extract original values that may have been corrupted since their values of electoral representation (not direct) and party campaigning (no parties until 1800 and no campaign speeches by candidates) are hard for us to recognize.

Just using your own logic, what criteria do you think voters should choose to evaluate candidates?

  • Electability
  • Previous executive experience
  • Foreign policy credentials
  • Likability
  • Inspirational
  • Tough and partisan
  • Bi-partisan

In David Broder’s column in the Washington Post several days ago, he share the criteria that Bill Bradley told him in 1988. Bradley, incidentally, felt he didn’t have these skills yet and deferred and offer to run as VP on the Dukakis ticket.

First, a president must possess deep knowledge of one other nation. This aids their awareness of the domestic pressures other leaders face when negotiating with the US. Second, s/he must be connected to the leaders of the US elite: think-tanks, corporate and financial, military, religious, labor, etc. Of course many of us would find this a tad distasteful to focus the elite but I think Bradley’s prescription might describe how a president is traditionally successful. This list highlights the president’s weakness in our system.

Update: The often good Kojo Nnamdi Show dedicates an hour to the primary/caucus system’s history of reforms.


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