Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why I'm Running for President

I don't want to run for President. I don't want to be President.

Yet, strangely, these are the thoughts that made me decide to run for President. These are the thoughts that have been driving me toward my 2020 run for the past 12 years.
I've recalled this memory so many times that I honestly can't remember if I've ever written it down. Regardless, it's good to return to those moments when you've chosen a path: it reminds you why you're doing what you're doing, it gives you a chance to reflect on the decision and possibly change your course, and it gives you a chance to measure how far you've come.

In late 2004, I was coming to the end of my first semester of college. I was a bit lost at the time. I was an art student, but I was realizing that I did not want to be an artist. At least, not professionally.

This left me with an obvious question: what did I want to be? The possibilities were limitless. My future was open, and all I needed to do was choose a path. However, I'm easily contented. I could have simply dropped out of college at that moment and gotten a job in fast food or something, gotten a job just good enough for me to survive and play video games of the rest of my life, and I would have been content with that. In short, there wasn't anything in particular that I wanted out of life career-wise, so consulting my desires did little to narrow my options.

So, instead, I thought about things I definitely did not want to do, and the first thing that bubbled up was being a politician. It was everything I didn't want: power, responsibility, attention... I was a very shy kid, and I despaired of ever overcoming that. As such, I obviously needed to avoid going into politics, which didn't seem like a difficult goal to accomplish.

But then I recalled a passage from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:
The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
The gist of which, to me, was that people who want to rule the country are the least suited to do so. Therefore, since I definitely did not want to rule the country, perhaps that meant I ought to try. Never mind that bit about how the ability to become President would make me unsuitable for the job; that contradiction was not a law of nature to me so much as a challenge to be overcome.

And so, I solved my little identity crisis by deciding to run for President. However, I knew that going about it in the traditional way one goes about becoming President (running for local offices and working my way up, for instance) may well mold me into a more traditional type of politician, which would defeat the purpose. If I wanted to become a different sort of politician, I needed to take a path of my own creation.

So, instead of switching to a Political Science curriculum, I decided to work on my greatest weakness: communication. I needed to transform from someone who actively avoids attention and barely speaks up at all to someone comfortable speaking to anyone, especially to the masses. So, I switched from the Art Department to the Mass Communication department, focusing on broadcast communication.

I did very little with my degree professionally, but that wasn't the point; I learned a lot that I still use fairly regularly. I also spent my college years learning history, law, government, business, accounting, economics, and marketing. I'm a master of none of these things, though I never stopped learning about all of these things independently after I graduated.

After all, a President doesn't need to be a master of these things, just good enough to recognize a master and to heed their advice. I believe a President needs to be a generalist, with their sole mastery being their ability to judge character. From there, they can bring in people smarter than themselves and give them the power and the authority to put their intelligence and expertise into practice. After all, a government (especially one as large and active as the Untied States) is too big to micromanage.

And, of course, an ego small enough to allow them to work with other people is vital.

Anyway, as 2020 approaches, I find myself questioning this path more and more. I'm thinking about it more, thinking about what leadership means, and how to approach this campaign.

I'm determined to see it through, though. Running for President sounds like the worst experience in the world, right behind actually being President. But it's my duty. Even if I'm destined to lose, it's my duty to try. I have to give it a shot.

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