I am really glad I am not the President of the United States of America. The perks may sound great, but the grim realities of the job just seem to make it a bad bargain. The following represent my concerns about the job:
Security vs. Anxiety – The President has to be aware at all times of the threats to his/her family, not to mention the risk he/she routinely experiences. It cannot be pleasant to live with the knowledge that some lunatic wants to kill you every minute of every day and that your family’s safety is dependent on security systems that have failed in the past.
Celebrity vs. Anonymity – Life’s pleasures include the ability to act spontaneously and do things because they feel right or good. The President’s life seems planned to the last detail, and he creates a scene wherever he goes. I used to occasionally whine to my wife because we couldn’t go to the grocery store in the small town where I was manager without getting into a conversation with someone about the City. The President’s life has few unexamined moments.
Freedom vs. Confinement – I do not believe I could, at this stage in my life, willingly give up my freedom to a scheduler who would have more influence over how I spend my waking hours than my wife. Perhaps a more important freedom that is lost to the President is the freedom from care. The presidency carries so many heavy responsibilities that they can never be far from his/her mind.
Affirmation vs. Criticism – I think people need to receive more routine affirmation than an election every four years. Winning the Presidency is surely a big boost to the ego; but the daily trashing of your judgment, statements, actions, reading habits, or facial expressions could quickly erode self-confidence.
Truth vs. Fiction – Presidents are often criticized because the critic doesn’t know the whole story. Reading a newspaper article or editorial is probably inadequate background for an informed opinion on the need to protect people from harm versus the desire for personal privacy. So much of the information distributed through the various media is inaccurate or misleading by design.
Serving as President obviously has its appeal given that so many people seem to want the job so badly. The total compensation package is nice, and you would never have to worry about going hungry; however, there are many other jobs that offer those same benefits without all the adversity.
My proposal for celebrating the Fourth of July this year is to spare a kind thought for all political leaders who are brave enough to take up the challenge and to take an extra moment to give thanks for a President willing to put the interests of the country ahead of him or herself. I believe most of them have most of the time, and I am grateful for a system of governance that allows us to translate our judgments into votes that make a difference.