It certainly is nice to see that there are a number of pretty strong Democratic candidates for the 2008 election. Even more so since this country is going to hell in a bucket (and I am not enjoying the ride nearly as much as the Grateful Dead made it out to be). And while I have no illusions that we are not going to find someone who can become a hero and save the day – I do expect a number of things from our President.
Of course, with the last six-plus years of the Bush administration and the last twelve years of the rubber stamp republican Congress, there are so many things that have gone unaddressed, and so many ways that this country is headed in the wrong direction. All of this, however, makes it even more imperative that our next President be a strong leader who can make significant strides towards righting this ship – both nationally and in the global community.
I will preface by saying that the two people who I think would be the best leaders for this country at this time in history have not thrown their hats in the ring, and the one who I am leaning towards supporting at this point may not even exhibit the most traits which I think would make the strongest leader. That all being said, I think that there are many traits that we must demand from our next President – or at least our next Democratic candidate. And while it is too early to focus on anyone in particular, I don’t think it is too early to formulate what we need in our next President.
I will keep this as objective as possible, and there will be some traits which will obviously lead to the thought that a particular candidate does not, can not or will not exhibit – but I don’t want to make this a “pro” or “anti” anyone diary. I would rather see what people’s thoughts on what we need and expect from our next President.
This is in no particular order, other than what comes to mind.
We need a leader who will be able to put forth a plan that will minimize the ongoing disaster that is occurring in Iraq. I think that there will not be 150,000 troops in Iraq by November 2008, however, even if there isn’t, there will be a humanitarian issue which could be a full blown genocide by then. We need someone who will be able to push a reasonable and manageable plan that will meet the approval of Congress as well as the international community.
A leader that isn’t afraid to put out a strong and concrete plan for Iraq. To redeploy our troops. To incorporate the other countries in the region. To be vocal about what is smart and what is right.
We need a leader who will be able to bridge the huge chasm that is the partisan divide in Congress as well as this country. This leader must be able to work with both sides of the aisle in order to do what is best for this country, and what is best for We the People. This is probably the most important trait – as it would apply to Iraq, the Middle East in general, Iran’s nuclear program, the global economy, the national economy, healthcare, the environment and the shrinking middle class.
We need a leader that will command the respect of the international community. Someone who doesn’t necessarily need to have decades of foreign policy experience, but someone who other countries will trust – or at least trust enough to want to negotiate with. This would be in areas such as trade agreements, international humanitarian issues (whether it be tsunami, earthquake, genocide, AIDS, or hunger).
We need a leader that will take a smart but tough approach to national security and “keeping us safer”. This should address our deteriorating infrastructure – power grid, power plants, railways, airports, ports, and other areas where we are vulnerable. This should also address sharing of international intelligence and smart law enforcement in order to reduce terrorism – in whatever form. Someone who knows that homeland security does not consist of torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, changing or breaking any of the FISA laws.
We need a leader that wants to be the President of the United States, not be “called the President of the United States”. A leader who works to earn the job – not one who thinks they deserve the job. Someone who, unlike our current President, is able to admit a mistake and adapt to changing circumstances.
We need a leader who will work to help the lower and middle class. Whether it is social security, Medicare, the AMT, tax relief, health insurance or just the cost of living. Someone who will take real action towards rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Someone who will be able to lower the tax burden while rolling back the most egregious of the Bush tax cuts.
Someone who can connect with the American people, and not in a “have a beer with” kind of way. Someone who understands that the average American deals with on an everyday basis. Someone who thinks of “We the People” instead of their high net worth supporters or corporate lobbyists.
Someone who will show over the next two years that he or she is willing to take a strong leadership role in fighting the administration and putting forth concrete ideas to move this country forward. This can be by introducing or sponsoring legislation in the House, the Senate, or by making high profile appearances in his or her home state.
Now, I know that none of the candidates will exhibit all of these traits. But it is something that we should expect from our President. There are nearly two years until the election. But since the campaigning is already underway, we should be holding our candidates’ feet to the fire.
Nobody “deserves” to be President – it is earned. And these traits and actions are even more warranted now with the extremely precarious situation that our country is in. This country demands strong leadership. It is screaming for such leadership.
So, candidates – show us what you got.