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Chatterbox: Suiting up


As hard as it is to believe, we seem to already be gearing up for another presidential campaign and election, and bumpy isn’t going to begin to describe it.

It’s a wonder why our system was set up to take any seated president and even allow him to place himself into another election campaign cycle. A second term is a solid idea, but campaigning is something else. Any president has enough to do to run the country. Campaigning to serve for another set of four years, doing more of the same, is obviously too much of a distraction from duty.

Besides, far more valid than anything any president can spout about on a campaign trail is his record and performance. Every day, every action, is his campaign. An American president’s interaction with his staff, the people, the press and worldwide leadership is his campaign. His performance of duties, successes, failures, and flubs, his language, communication skills and personal behavior is his campaign. His stand on issues, dedication to protocol, work ethic and his responses to – and prioritization of – urgent situations is his campaign. His every action and reaction is his campaign. Every day in office is a day of campaigning for a seated president. What he is doing is the clearest indication of who he is, and what any president does as an elected leader is the clearest indication of what he will do as a re-elected one.

As far as a seated president’s formal blaze of the campaign trail for a second term, well, it should be short and sweet. At most, he should be obligated to, indeed legislated to, participation in only one or two debates in the very end of the game. That’s all he should be allowed to do; it makes more sense.

When our president speaks, it shouldn’t sound like a campaign or rally speech. It should be real communication on the condition of the nation, information, and a sharing of our plans. When candidates speak, it’s only talk, ideas, supposition. They can make promises and they can sell anything, but watching what any seated president is actually doing is the living example of not only his skill but his soul as well.

Yet, here we are, two years ahead of the next election and we are about to open the door on that clown car from the circus again. Already, it looks like it’s going to be pretty cramped in there. Already, too many hats have been tossed into the center ring, but what should we be looking for in and what should we be listening for from the next American president?

We are a nation, right now, embroiled in many issues we didn’t anticipate. Around the world, we are losing allies. At home, many small issues are growing larger, and garner much more attention not just in the press but in people’s daily life. At the very least, magnifying these quiet problems has done two things. Unfortunately, it has empowered many people, who wouldn’t have aggressed themselves against fellow Americans before, to strike out with a new anger and sense of superiority. Fortunately, however, it has also renewed our urgency to deal with them, creating a new sense of outrage among those who believe this kind of harassment, discrimination, and intimidation to be wrong.

Many Americans are rising to fight harder, vote smarter and legislate better against anything that doesn’t represent America as the nation of liberty and justice for all. No, we never truly have been that nation, completely, yet … but that remains the goal and achieving it is way overdue for a nation which so touts equality.

As Americans, we say words to support this every time we recite our pledge of allegiance and expect other Americans to do so, too. Yet, at the same time, many stand against those very same words, believing privileges apply only to those we believe should have them.

Once, when speaking to a group of newly retired people, I was asked what came next for them. I answered that we must use our time to create a nation ready to serve our grandchildren. This means choosing the best leadership to bring them the America they need, an America fully united, strong, healthy and efficient enough to compete, as well as cooperate, on a worldwide stage. It must empower itself by empowering its entire people – a healthy, soluble population resolute in creating and protecting a nation that demands enough of – and provides enough for – each of them.