Time to Shine Up the Presidency?

Once upon a time – in my lifetime, that is – parents encouraged their children to chase their dreams. Anything you put your mind to can happen if you work hard, keep your nose clean and study hard. And one day you might even become president of the United States.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is even on the radar screen of most American parents in 2012.

At one point in history, and it is worth pointing out not too long ago, this was the moon shot, the highest target anyone would dream of achieving. As a matter of fact, so iconic, becoming the president of the United States of America was woven into the fabric of the American Dream.

Today, I’m pretty sure parents are more likely to encourage their kids to create a website than plot a course to one day becoming president.

When I was a child the president was revered across not only our nation, but the entire planet. A cowboy in a white hat, so to speak.

Even in my home, my parents always respected the president, even if they didn’t vote or agree with him. If the president came on the television, we’d all stop everything and sit down to watch the event together. I even remember being called in from playing catch in the backyard to watch President Nixon resign on national television.

But something happened – and I’m not quite sure when and how – and the luster is somehow off the position.

The media is relentless in a game of “gotcha” with elected officials and celebrities. Transparency is now interpreted as more of MRI looking for any possible mistake, error in judgment, or questionable action to ridicule an individual. The level of scrutiny is arguably so intense many a good person is no longer willing to put themselves or family members through such an ordeal.

The president of the United States earns $400,000 per year. In comparison, Albert Pujols recently inked a deal to hit a little baseball for $240 million (or $24 million per year). Even Hollywood is willing to pay a Eddie Murphy, a comedian with a mixed box office track record, $20 million for staring in “Meet Dave” – a box office flop.

So we think $400,000 is a good figure to run the free world? Is something out of whack here?

Granted, the president earns some very nice perks, but we all tell ourselves elective office is a “public service” and shouldn’t be concerned with what an individual earns. For the past decade or so, the brightest graduates headed straight for Wall Street or the technology world to make their fortunes. And in many ways, who can blame them?

But at the end of the day, the president is still the most powerful position in the world. We need the very best possible people to strive to make a choice to pursue a pathway to the White House.

This just might be the time for us to collectively step back and ask ourselves where this behavior will one day lead – and if this is what we want for our nation.


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