Are presidential campaigns a poor way to pick a leader for the United States of America? According to one op-ed, the founding fathers would be completely confounded and “horrified” by the way we select our national leader.
For Slate, John Dickerson argues that campaigning was best defined by Woodrow Wilson, who said that it’s “a great interruption to the rational consideration of public questions.” It rings true, what with sitting-presidents taking their fourth year in their first term “off” to campaign fiercely, and the unwitting distraction from the nation’s “action-item” list from the media coverage of an opponent’s campaign. The truth, according to Dickerson, is that campaigning is a terrible way to pick our president.
“Campaigns reward fighters,” Dickerson writes, but “governing requires cooperation, compromise, and negotiation.”
So what’s a better way? Well, we should pick a president the way that a company chooses a CEO.
“Are they comfortable with the schmoozing, backslapping, and ego-massaging that comes with the job,” of working with their opponents to reach a deal? Are they good managers? Can they choose a good team, admit their mistakes, and adjust going forward? Can they persuade and use public opinion to their advantage? What does their temperament look like in the face of a real crisis?
These are all things that are said to be present during a campaign, but very rarely does the reaction match up to the pledge.
“Rather than testing for leadership, we should recognize that leadership is actually the sum of these four attributes—and probably a few more,”he says.
Notes Newser, these attributes can, and should, be measured. What would a campaign look like, for instance, if taxpayer money was given to an electoral board that “interviews” candidates? What if we ran the elections instead of just participating in them?