This is a good time to reflect on those qualities that we consider admirable in a Presidential candidate. These are qualities that stand the test of time. Throughout American history, presidents have faced many challenges that have over time defined their legacy. For some the legacy improved over time. For others their presidency proved to be more disastrous than previously stated. What are the qualities that define a good president? This is a quite subjective opinion, but these are my thoughts on what a good president should be about.
Demonstrate willingness to serve-
Presidents should have a commitment to service and there should be no conjecture here. This should be readily apparent when one reviews a President’s life, what did they do in service to others? What pet programs did they champion and what political offices did they previously hold? John F. Kennedy, Demonstrated a willingness to serve early on in his political career. When he first started his career as a Congressman in Massachusetts, Kennedy’s commitment was to serve. Prior to this he served in the US Navy, assigned to PT Boat 109 during World War II, in the South Pacific., where he saved his entire crew, by rescuing those who were burned and wounded, swimming to their aid. Kennedy demonstrated that he cared and this caring attitude served him well in his short tenure in the Office of President of the United States.
George Washington answered the call of the American people first as Commander and Chief of the Revolutionary Army and he answered the call reluctantly to lead the new country as its first President. His reluctance was because he was somewhat weary from a hard fought battle to win Independence from England. But Washington put his fatigue aside and served two terms as the first President of the United States.
The ability to confront challenges decisively and in a way that is in the best interest of the American People-
There are many examples of Presidents who reacted to challenges and threats decidedly, not because of vendetta, but truly because it was in the best interest of the American people. This is a tricky situation for a President. There have also been presidents who have reacted because of party affiliations, lobby groups, and constituents. Their actions certainly were not in the best interest of the American people.
Franklin Roosevelt comes to mind as a President who saw a threat, the attack on Pearl Harbor and reacted to it, but saw a bigger threat from Nazi Germany and declared war on both Japan and Germany. He saw Nazi Germany as a real threat to American Interest, particularly if England fell to Nazi hands. Roosevelt did what he needed to do to support England, while building up the American army, preparing the Army for the D-Day invasion.
Roosevelt should be credited for creating a way for America to work it way out of a depression. He authored the social security system that is still in tact to day, where millions of Americans have relied on this service for their survival. Franklin Roosevelt had the vision to protect Americans in their old age and created a system that despite its protractors, has withstood the test of time.
The ability to see both sides of an issue –
Abraham Lincoln has the vision to see beyond the bickering between the Northern and Southern States enough to see a brewing resentment that would tear the country apart from one single issue; slavery.. Lincoln had to walk a fine line, but in the final analysis, Lincoln saw slavery as a travesty of the human existence and something that should be abolished. He was not at all liked, below the Mason Dixon Line.
Despite this Lincoln sought valiantly to keep the Union in tack; in an effort to placate the south. In the final analysis Lincoln knew that there was only one clear choice that slavery would have to be abolished. In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and effectively freeing the slaves. This final act eventually brought the war to a swift end 14 years after it started in 1865.
John Kennedy- sought to pacify Southerners during the turbulent years of the Civil Right movement. When George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama, denying black students the right to enter the University of Alabama. Kennedy watched as lunch counter protest were conducted all over the south and intervened when he could. Kennedy did what he could by trying to logically coax the southern establishment to do the right thing. The fire burned and Kennedy tried to extinguish the flame, but on the horizons were the culmination of an 11 year movement that would change the face of the South and foster in the most progressive period in American history for African Americans and for women.
Although Kennedy consider the passing of the Civil Right Bill. He was assassinated before he could implement It. Lyndon Johnson picked up the torch and finished were Kenney left off with the passing of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. This bill had far reaching effect and to this day has helped in gains for African American, and women.
My choice for American Presidents who have made a difference and had unique qualities that has stood the test of time.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
John F Kennedy
These are the four great presidents in American History. All reacted to turbulent times and held the country together. Not because of personal belief, or personal agenda, but because it was the right thing to do. Two of these presidents were assassinated while in office, Lincoln and Kennedy. One died while in office, Franklin Roosevelt. All paid a heavy price because of a strong belief in their country. These American Presidents are icons and their actions over time shaped American life into what it is today, without their contribution America would not be the country of is today.