Off-topic: Picking a US president

Leadership is not something a poll can give you. It's something that life reveals.

This blog isn't a political one. I don't talk US or other national politics here. But I really liked Lawrence Lindsey's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this past week, wherein he asks the question, "What [Should] Americans Want in a President." Lindsay suggests that what we really need in a leader is not a pedigree so much as an indication that the candidate knows how to deal with real life:

As president, there is a lot to learn both factually and about the process of governing. Beginning on day one, he or she will have to confront a bureaucracy and a media establishment that has its own agenda, to hire expert advisers and administrators on a whole host of foreign and domestic policy issues, and to structure the whole operation in a way that carries out the will of the people. Our job as voters should be to select someone who will (1) know what he or she doesn't know, (2) get up to speed quickly, and (3) avoid making serious mistakes in the meantime....

There are...three...questions about a candidate's character that are likely to shed some light on whether that candidate will do well in the on-the-job training school of the Oval Office. These questions have nothing to do with party or ideology[:]

First, has the candidate faced a crisis or overcome a major setback in his or her life? A president's first crisis will teach two important lessons. The first is that bad things happen, in fact they happen on a regular basis. The second is that the real power of the office to affect, let alone control, events is far less than imagined. If the occupant of the Oval Office has faced this double whammy the new president is far more likely to succeed.

Empathy. That's what he's talking about. Empathy and humility in the face of crisis. Who wants some prep school brat that has had life handed to them? Who wants someone who always had straight A's in school because Daddy hired the best tutor money could buy? We want people that have had to overcome their own flaws and the inevitable struggles that life presents. Real life, that is. Not a catered rich boy's life.

The other two questions - Has the candidate had a variety of life experiences? Can the candidate tell the difference between a foreign enemy and a political opponent? - are also important. Who we vote for changes if we ask ourselves these questions. I"m a conservative, but my vote will not be on party lines. There are bigger issues at stake than whether Candidate X believes in higher or lower taxes.

As we've seen, the answer to that question is very fluid based on what circumstances dictate. I want my candidate to answer this and other questions based on a lifetime of dealing with adversity and his/her opponents wisely.

Anyway...back to open source.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    ARTICLE DISCUSSION

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Don't Miss
    Hot Products
    Trending on CNET

    Hot on CNET

    Saving your life at speed and in style

    Volvo have been responsible for some of the greatest advancements in car safety. We list off the top ways they've kept you safe today, even if you don't drive one.