When I was in elementary school I remember being told (probably in jest) that I could grow up to become president. That makes me wonder what it takes to be the ultimate American leader; things like charisma and a desire to be raked over the coals by the media are obvious. What other qualities do former presidents have in common? And are any in common with me?
Well to begin with, your best chance is if you are a white male between the ages of 52 and 58. The youngest was Teddy Roosevelt at 42 and the oldest, Ronald Reagan at nearly 70. As far as occupation goes, you should probably study law (over 61 percent practiced law at some point in their careers). The military comes in second, followed by a variety of occupations, including politician and planter/farmer. An actor has a small chance, as does an engineer.
If you could arrange to be born in Virginia (8) or Ohio (7), you would be doing well, but New York and Massachusetts residents have done well too. On the other hand, Louisiana, my home state, has had none. Surprisingly, being wealthy is not a prerequisite, although it didn’t hurt Kennedy, as most presidents come from middle to upper-middle class families. Republicans slightly outweigh the Democrats (although there were some weird parties before Buchanan), more than 93 percent were involved in politics prior to the presidential campaign, and military service seems to help, with a little over 61 percent having served.
How do the current GOP candidates stack up against these metrics? Are Bachmann and Cain automatically out of the running? Of course not. Is Romney out because of his non-mainstream religion? No, after all, Nixon was a Quaker!
So, based on the data I collected and a weighing system I devised, my predictions for the nomination are Rick Santorum likeliest, with Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry in a tie for second.
Do any of these characteristics mean anything as pertains to performing the job; would you think that profession is important? Some argument can be made that law is a good starting point; being able to understand past and present precedents. But how much understanding of law is really necessary for the leader of the free world?
So, what profession should we have? How about giving historians a try? Didn’t Santayana say that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it? We might try an economist in the seat, since our biggest troubles in the last century have revolved around how to recover from recessions and keeping the economy running. I also see some merit in having a businessman in power, even though there are counter arguments. Wouldn’t it be great if the president could fire a member of congress for not showing up for voting?
We have been voting for lawyers for 225 years with extremely mixed results. Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over, and over, and expecting different results.”
Oh, I came in fourth, tied with Romney.