What Qualities Are You Looking for in a President?

© St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tad Armstrong

As we round the corner and head down the homestretch of potentially the greatest election year in our history, each of us would be well-advised to seriously ponder the qualities we would like to see in our elected leaders and, in particular, our president.

For myself, I would like to see the leader of the free world honestly profess a belief in God. In this new millennium, some readers will scoff at such a suggestion, as though such a desire is out of place today. Yet, to my knowledge, every one of our presidents have been men of faith, or so they have said. Even President Obama, who left the “Creator” out of several Declaration of Independence recitations and who conspicuously failed to make mention of God in his Thanksgiving Internet address, occasionally asks God to bless America when closing a speech.

Just as a Jew would likely prefer a Jewish president, an atheist an atheist president, etc., I would prefer a Christian president, for I am a Christian. It is only human nature for us to prefer leaders who share our same fundamental beliefs. President Lincoln expressed his viewpoint on this subject: “I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion.”

Race is not a factor, for race is not a predictor of fundamental values.

Some would suggest Americans will not elect an honest president, for we cannot accept the truth enough to vote for a man of integrity. Must a candidate lie to get our vote by promising more than he knows he can deliver? For example, are we so immature that we cannot handle discipline in the face of near unsustainable debt?

I refer to this next year as potentially the “greatest” election year in our history because I believe it will provide an opportunity for us to rise up and restore our founding principles, to face the truth with courage, and to prove that, with the help of God, we can still overcome difficult times. So, yes, I will hold on to the belief that we can elect an honest president and will look for that virtue in my candidate of choice.

That does not mean a candidate can never alter his position. I would never want a leader without an open mind who would resist changing a position if he were persuaded to do so by reason. The key is to elect a leader whose motivation for change is not based upon personal aggrandizement (i.e., to get re-elected), but rather, is founded upon the best interests of the nation.

When does altered thinking become flip-flopping? That depends upon each voter’s “integrity threshold.” For me, when a candidate changes course on nearly every promise made within six months of attaining office, he can fairly be labeled as a liar.

I distinctly recall President Obama warning of cataclysmic disaster if Congress failed to pass his health care bill, promising the nation we would see an immediate decrease in premiums to help get the votes he needed, and that an average family would see a reduction of $2,500 per year. Recently, White House deputy chief of staff, Nancy-Ann DeParle, “insisted” we will see a $2,000 savings – by 2019 – and several research groups are predicting 30% of our nation’s corporations will drop health coverage entirely by 2014 due to the impact of Obamacare. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports this year’s premiums have grown at a faster pace than they did in 2004! That’s not the kind of integrity I’m looking for in a leader.

Of course, intelligence is required, but I will also look for a candidate with enough wisdom to realize that one man does not possess all of the answers.

I’m looking for faith, honesty, an open mind, intelligence and wisdom; yet, I know my candidate of choice will fall short of perfection, for we are all sinners. There are skeletons in every closet. Each of us will have to answer whether a specific past transgression eliminates a candidate from our consideration. When you make that determination, remember that some very popular and successful past presidents may never have been elected by today’s unforgiving and hypocritical standards. It’s all a matter of degree, isn’t it? Please study your choices carefully this next year. For me, I believe our ship will sink unless we hire a new president and a new Congress. The people you vote for next time must be problem solvers. The job requirements should read: “Experience In Something Relevant Required – Vacation Suspended – Bring a Shovel – Smooth Talking Unnecessary.” Critics, take heart. In my precinct, they only let me vote once!


  1. Roy M says:

    What a day it would be if every Congress person, Senator and President and Vice President holding office right now was voted out during the next election and then again during the next mid-term. You think we might get a group of individuals that truely care to represent the people who elected them and not by the special interest groups or corporate dollars that they took to run for office! I long for that day!