Tuesday, January 1, 2008

70,778,880 ways to choose a President

By the time you read this, the 2008 Presidential Election will be officially underway with the January 3rd Iowa caucuses, the traditional first chance anyone has the opportunity to actually cast a vote for the next president. The South Carolina primary will be only a couple of weeks away.

So, its time for us to start thinking seriously about our choice to be the next leader of the free world.

Choosing a president is a complex process. Even deciding what qualities are most important can be difficult.

I was in Waffle House a few days ago and I noticed on their menu where they claim there are over 70,778,880 ways to order a hamburger.

If there are that many combinations of ingredients for a hamburger, how many different combinations of ingredients must there be in the make up of a president? And, in addition to all these variables, we should also factor in that there are now over 300 million citizens, each of whom have a slightly different set of personal values.

So do the math: What’s roughly 70 million times roughly 300 million? Whatever it comes to, that’s my estimate of how many variables go into choosing a president.

What all that high math means, I think, is this: There’s not a right answer to the question, “Who’s the best choice for President?” Nor is there a wrong answer. There are just millions and millions of individual decisions, based on lots and lots of different factors.

And we here in South Carolina have about two weeks to sort through that massive jigsaw puzzle.

The campaigns of the 20 or so candidates running for President understand the complexity of the choices to be made. Consequently, they focus most of their advertising, not on offering REASONS to choose their candidate, but instead to making voters FEEL GOOD about their candidate. They also, of course, spend a lot of effort trying to make voters FEEL BAD about their opponents.

As I write this, I have absolutely no idea which candidate I will choose when I go to the polls on January 19th for the Republican Primary (or January 26th for the Democratic Primary, which is unlikely… but never say never.) A lot of my friends and acquaintances tell me they feel the same way.

So, what I’d like to do here is this: I want to offer what I consider to be a good reason to vote for each of the candidates, because frankly, I can see good, solid attributes in virtually all of them… Republican and Democrat alike. This week, we’ll run through the Republicans, and next week, I’ll cover the Democrats.

We’ll start with John McCain. I believe John McCain is a good and decent man, proven in the service of his country as a POW during the Vietnam War. He has solid and successful experience in government, and has shown himself to be a consensus builder. He’s battle-tested, and we probably know everything there is to know about him, so we’re unlikely to run into any surprises. McCain would be a solid President during a time of war, and one who truly understands the sacrifices faced by our military families.

Mitt Romney is probably our best choice of a President if we’re looking for a CEO. He has a proven-track record at successfully operating both businesses and government. He probably understands the role of a Chief Executive Officer better than any other candidate, and understands how to surround himself with top quality people to whom he can delegate responsibility. He also seems to be a man of faith with solid family values.

Rudy Giuliani has a solid record as a fearless leader. The world watched him hold his city together – and possibly our nation – in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Long before that, however, Giuliani had proven himself as the U.S. District Attorney who declared war on the Mafia and, to a great extent, succeeded in shutting them down. As Mayor of NYC, he presided over a massive turn-around of his city.

Fred Thompson may be our best shot at electing another Ronald Reagan. Reagan proved that being an actor has its advantages. Like Reagan, Thompson possesses the oratorical skills to motivate the masses. Also like Reagan, he seems to be a no-nonsense, straight talker, and an unflinching conservative. His tough persona would serve America well during the decade ahead, when our terrorist foes will continue their war against the world.

Mike Huckabee is a nice guy. He’s a friendly, likeable fellow, who is down to earth. He’s one of the people. He has the experience of having run a state without the insider taint of Washington, DC. America likes to elect ex-Governors who haven’t served in Congress (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush in the last three decades.) He, too, seems to be a decent man with solid family values.

Ron Paul is a purist. He is THE straight-talker of the group. You can count on him to say exactly what he thinks, without regard to political expediency. And he is a true reformer. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul walks the walk. He would truly be a breath of fresh air for our nation, and a change of direction. He is fearless in standing up for his principles.

Duncan Hunter has solid experience in Congress, and served as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which possibly gives him more insight than any other candidate into our nation’s actual ongoing military operations. Although sometimes dismissed as a front-runner, he may be my personal favorite. I had an opportunity to speak personally with him on the phone about a year ago (as I did with several candidates during the early stages of their campaigns).

But my chat with Hunter gave me good insight that he was a truly nice guy. As it happened, we talked for over half-an-hour on New Year’s Eve night, 2006. He was taking time off from Congress and campaigning, and was with his family. I could hear the grandkids in the background. He was as genuine as any candidate I’ve ever talked to, concerned for the future of our nation, and wanting to offer himself to do his part. I hope voters give him the same consideration they give the other candidates.

There you have it: Good, solid reasons to vote for each of seven Republican candidates for President.

Next week, I’ll offer equally sound reasons to vote for most of the Democrats.


Jake1344 said...

There is really only ONE way to vote for a president: VOTE FOR MITT ROMNEY!!!

SSHIN said...

Hello Mr. Shealy,

I work for the NPR program, Weekend America, and am doing some research for this week's show.

I was wondering if you are the Rod Shealy who used to be involved in political consulting in South Carolina. We are looking to speak with somebody who is knowledgeable of S.C.'s political environment and think you would be the perfect choice!

If you are indeed the Rod Shealy mentioned above and are interested in speaking with me, please contact me at sshin@americanpublicmedia.org?

Thanks so much,
Shirley S. Shin