“In America, anyone can grow up to be the President.”
My mother, an immigrant from a European nation supporting a king and queen, repeatedly told this to me as a child. To her, these words were meant to be inspirational, motivating, pointing to a higher calling.
I wonder now, decades after her passing, if she’d retire that phrase if she’d lived to see her grandchildren.
As a matter of fact, if we are learning anything from this current election cycle, it is her words should serve more as a cautionary warning than inspiration.
As a citizen, I’m pissed at the quality of candidates each of the major parties brought forth. One unpredictable, unbalanced, and smart enough to be dangerous. The other is manufactured candidate, with similarities to how a hot dog is made – you don’t really want to know what goes in it. Problem is, we do know. And it is disturbing. Neither would I trust any further than I can throw them.
Which brings me back to why this election cycle worries me.
Besides the policy debates, the character flaws each major party candidate projects, and the massive amount of negative baggage each carriers like stink on sewer water, there is something larger at risk – the respect for the office of the presidency.
I was raised in a home where patriotism was cultivated, taught, respectfully passed from one generation to the next. The American flag was never to touch the ground, remove your cap when the national anthem is played, and place your hand over your heart when pledging allegiance.
Today, with a cesspool of ugly politics, mean-spirited words, and one where money drives the outcome, actions, and motivations, I am disgusted with the process.
The office, which I will always hold the highest respect for, is being devalued into a cheap reality show or huckster tent at a traveling carnival.
And, sadly, not the office I would use as an inspirational phrase to an elementary school student. Not even close.
The reality is not everyone can grow up to be the president. And if we’ve learned anything in the past few decades, a handful of families – the Bush and Clinton families – have monopolized the pool of potential candidates. And this incestuous cycle may lead us to a correction where the meaning of ‘anyone’ literally means ‘anyone’ – but now with a negative connotation.
Anyone, when interpreted as the latter, is a scary proposition.
If anyone is listening, here is what I want from my president. I want courage, honesty, empathy, and a healthy respect for the office of the presidency. I want someone I can trust to make – and communicate – decisions with the American people. I want a leader I can believe in – not someone being elected solely on the merit of having lower negatives than their opponent.
I am so thirsty for someone to believe in, to trust, and to get behind; I’m darn near desperate.
And that is exactly when we, as a nation, should be afraid.