Poor candidates reflect poorly on Americans
To the editor:
I find myself in agreement with the recent letter writer from Williamstown about the quality of presidential candidates. However, the qualifications for president are laid out in the Constitution in Article 2 Section 1: You must be a natural born citizen and be at least 35 years of age. All of the other suggestions the writer made would seem to require a constitutional amendment.
Better yet would be a more engaged electorate. Maybe voters need to prove they have a clue, oh wait — we outlawed prequalifying voters a while back so I guess we need to accept that as long as idiots can vote, we might get idiots elected to office?
Allowing media and moneyed interests to present our candidates all neatly packaged is probably part of the problem. But we have accepted that, and if we keep accepting it we would be pretty foolish if we didn't expect and receive more of the poor quality candidates we have to choose from.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said some 2,600 years ago: Character is destiny. Few of the elected officials we have ever voted into office have had character that would pre-ordain good decisions. We are lucky if they don't crash and burn the nation and move the needle just a bit forward from where we are now.
We need to accept that they will be driven by their flaws. This requires us to decide which flaws we can live with and which ones we must use to disqualify. More rules, laws and tests only mean they are smart or that they can thread the needle to meet the requirements we impose.
Intelligence is not the only skill you need to be a leader. The skills you need more of are the ability to persuade others to act with you, to be focused, to screen out all the nonsense that is thrown your way so that you act on the right inputs and not the background noise. We need decent people who are not so deeply flawed that their flaws divert their ability to do what needs to be done.
Some of our most successful presidents have had the highest IQ's (measured or presumptive), but then — so have some of our weakest presidents. All passing a test means is that you passed the test. I think we should aim higher than that.
Dave Pill, Pittsfield