I hope we haven’t met our next American President
Part 2 – There’s something funny… except it’s so sad


Before I start… I want you to consider this article --

Chafee mulls run for president

Ok… now a bit of background…

I was writing an article that took its own sweet time developing. That article?

I hope we haven’t met our next American President
Part 1 – Who do you want? Who wants to be President?

It was something that started when I was getting fed up with the same names coming out over and over again. Honestly though, it wasn’t just because the same names were coming up, and it quickly branched off in a different direction.

That new direction involved how politics had greatly become a game. It wasn’t one driven by results, but instead was simply about doing the dance to get elected. It was a pattern… blame the other person for suffocating hope and being unwilling to change while promising a new day and an end to the same old situations and frustrations.

But it turns out, everything old is new again. (First of many applicable clichés.) As they promise a brighter dawn filled with improvements, the results find many of us still smacking our hands against our head and muttering to ourselves about déjà vu.

Just look at the public relations, or the sorry attempts at it. The same waves of attacks… from the opposing party (or, to be fair, I suppose parties)… from the media… from the fair and balanced (ha ha) media (because… yeah… whatever)… and ups and downs and great candidate one day and awful candidate the next day, and did you see what his office did and did you hear about her e-mails and… I’m babbling and have lost track of this sentence and wake me when it’s Election Day.

“Part 1” was an article designed to point out that not only do we have the same candidates over and over, the funny part is that even when we don’t have the same specific candidates we find the same game being played.

When in doubt, go negative. No one tells you what they are going to do. Coming up with specifics provides potential measureable results that can be pointed out when they aren’t accomplished. Instead, tell everyone that you are different, the opponent is nothing but more of the same, and do whatever you can to discredit the opposition.

Hope gets promised. Change gets promised. Out with the old gets promised. And… nope. Even if the names don’t seem familiar to you right now, in time we’ll all be treated to a campaign that features someone playing the part of the racecar, someone the thimble, and someone the Scottie dog. Names change… game’s the same.

(I’ll pause here for a moment to allow you the fun of developing your own jokes based on the idea of playing pieces being referred to as tokens. (Thank you. I thought that was pretty good. Ok… ready?))

Then something amazing happened. Not a good amazing. In all honesty, it likely defies virtually all levels of stupidity previously understood in politics. But, still, amazing.

Back to where I started -- “Chafee mulls run for president

I mean… wow.

Head to Rhode Island and walk around. I want you to be prepared to ask anyone you meet the following two questions -- “Do you live in Rhode Island, or at least know the name Lincoln Chafee and his association with politics in the state of Rhode Island?” and, if any person says yes, then ask “Should Lincoln Chafee run for president?” -- and I will guarantee you that no matter how many people you ask, or how often you get to present that follow-up query, you will not run out of single-digit numbers while tallying the “yes” responses to your second question.

Heck… here’s a better test -- Tell any person that lives in Rhode Island that Lincoln Chafee announced in April that he was running for president, and then ask them what day his announcement was released. 100% of those responding will tell you April 1st (with a plus or minus margin for error of zero… 0%).

Ok… fine… he didn’t announce he was running, and it didn’t happen on April 1st. Neither of those ideas is the point. We’re looking at the sheer brilliance that he might even be considering it.

As far as I know, outside of politics Lincoln Chafee is a fine man. A good man. Kind of guy you would readily be happy to have in your home for dinner, head out to a ballgame with, and so on. I have no memories at all of him in person, though for some strange reason I’m fairly certain that if I haven’t met him, I have been in the same room as him on multiple occasions. And, his lifetime in the public eye throughout Rhode Island along with service as Mayor of Warwick would seem to lend itself to that possibility.

His family has always been politically active, and his father (John Chafee) was a well-respected Governor and U.S. Senator (with multiple terms in Washington). Lincoln Chafee has a strong education and, to my understanding, a very solid family. Most of his political stances have been against political party affiliations… at least to the extent that he has never been one to let his specific party by name represent his beliefs if he felt strongly other than the party’s official position.

My guess is, on paper, there really isn’t much about Lincoln Chafee not to like if you happen to be in the vetting business for political aspirations.

Ahh… but it never is that simple. Is it? Remember… it’s a game, and as I mentioned in “Part 1” you need to know that numbers lie.

Lincoln Chafee is a man with no true home. He was a Republican as a U.S. Senator… an Independent as Rhode Island Governor… and most people would consider him as leaning in the direction of a Democrat should he decide to run for office again.

His election as Governor involved collecting a whopping 36% of the vote statewide in his victory. Not exactly convincing numbers. And, one of the understood reasons for his not seeking re-election was weak results from fund raising.

Now… let’s step away from the idea of running in a campaign to be the President of the United States. Let’s for a moment consider some of the concepts we are always told time and time again about the process that goes into selecting a running mate. You know… a potential Vice President.

First up, you want someone that can deliver a state or region to your candidacy, especially one you might not be able to capture on your own. In short, you want to broaden your appeal to voters.

Next, it never hurts if that person has a home state with several votes in the Electoral College.

Third, I think it’s fair to say you want someone that can connect with the voters, seems approachable and liked, and does a decent job getting dollars into the war chest.

Now these are very general ideas indeed, and only three. But I don’t think we need to go much further than this… Chafee can’t deliver Rhode Island on his own (and honestly, Rhode Island isn’t a valuable prize toward election), he doesn’t consistently connect with voters, and he is anything but a fund raising machine.

Let’s face it… a man that doesn’t earn a majority of the vote in a small state isn’t going to be discussed for long in conversations based on selecting a second name on the party’s ticket, especially when he doesn’t have a party that really will rally around him as a dedicated member of their ranks.

Ok… back to the idea of becoming President.

If Lincoln Chafee doesn’t pass any of the thoughts needed for considerations as a Vice President, especially the few I’m laying out here as a starting point, then there is absolutely no chance of him becoming President. None. Not at all.

A few years ago… I forget exactly where… I recall that in some fashion I presented a thought that becoming President of the United States was not a legitimate career option for everyone. There were so many factors involved that navigating the waters to actually get to a point where your name would even be a viable possibility was ridiculous. And toward that end, I submit that in our country’s history not even 50 individuals have held the title. It’s a pretty exclusive club.

The thing is… for Lincoln Chafee, he does pass the tests for it to be a legitimate career option. May not be a good candidate for consideration, still, if you drew up a job description and moved beyond those most basic conditions such as age and place of birth in to additional things you would expect to see needed, I’m sure he would meet each and every one of those qualifications.

And yet… again… as I said earlier, 100% of Rhode Islanders polled would tell you that Lincoln Chafee considering a run for President was an April Fool’s Day headline.

But it’s not April Fool’s… not a Pat Paulsen filing of papers… not being stated in a throw-away “sure, I’d like to be President” fashion by someone.

What the heck makes Chafee… or, more precisely, Chafee and those around him that talk such things over… think such a concept is worth exploring?

Doesn’t he have any hobbies? I mean… New Hampshire and Iowa and other locations are great states to visit… but investing his time as an outreach portion of an exploratory committee project?

According to the snapshot in the article on the Providence Journal web site, here’s what we could expect from Chafee:

Politics change. Values don’t.

Oh where to begin? Because the problems with that slogan are virtually limitless.

Unfortunately, I’ve now gone on for almost two thousand words and probably given you the idea that this is directed at Lincoln Chafee. It wasn’t supposed to be. It just works so well as one example for the larger whole.

(I’ll pause here for a moment to allow you the fun of developing your own jokes based on playing the word whole against the word hole, and a discussion of political candidates. (Ok… ready?))

On the surface, Chafee has a nice, short, simple message here. The political world is ever-changing and evolving, and the elections of our fathers and grandfathers are not the same elections being held today. Just one problem…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We’ve heard that cliché before… and it is far too true. Politics has become a consistent repetitive promise of hope and change and future, while providing us with headaches and absurdity and ignorance.

How do you expect to connect with me on a vision for the future, when you don’t really understand that most of my decisions are being made paycheck to paycheck?

This is common to far, far too many political candidates right now. What Chafee’s announcement shows is simply that potential candidates are separated from the realities we face. They don’t live in our neighborhood. They don’t understand our best interests. And the more complex part of the Chafee example is that these people don’t seem to recognize that this play has been acted out before.

Unfortunately… until we stand up and react with our votes, and change the game being played, we’ll keep seeing these results.

To that end, as people begin announcing their intentions… or the exploration of their intentions… I find myself over and over again hoping that someone steps forward that hasn’t yet. Someone that actually seems worthy of consideration. Because as I write this, of those that are being discussed, I am amazingly unimpressed.

I am not asking for a change in the game. I don’t know many alternatives to the current voting process or the action-reaction results that proposing some new system might create.

Instead, I simply want to ask you to look around. Really, really look around. Find out what the candidates not only say they believe, but try to find out how they have actually worked on specific issues.

And then… turn up and vote. Again, the more eligible voters that begin showing up on election days, the more candidates will notice that the campaigns are important and do matter to everyone… not just the largest voting blocks in the most rewarding states. Let them know this isn’t a game… at least not one that we can comfortably watch being lost.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Please understand… this essay is not a critique of Lincoln Chafee as a person. I said it in the piece -- I’ve never met him in a one-on-one, personal setting that I can recall.

And that holds true for most political candidates. I am incredibly unimpressed by what I have seen happen to businesses and hiring practices around the state of Connecticut during the two terms of President Obama. Discussions with friends of mine have revealed similar situations at other businesses in several other states. There are many other things that have happened that tend to make me believe Obama and his team have not been a successful group in the White House.

That does not mean I don’t feel Obama is a fascinating, impressive, and inspirational man. I find his speaking abilities to be brilliant. His passion, enthusiasm, and drive to excel are extraordinary. I may not believe in the candidate… I do believe in the man. I would be honored to shake his hand and spend an evening speaking with him. I sincerely believe that as time moves on, he will join Jimmy Carter as one of the finest post-office American Presidents ever. His best days, his greatest influences, have yet to be realized.

With Chafee, the idea is simply that sure, I could see how when considering the qualifications of a candidate he does manage to get through any checklist you might devise. But the idea of him being a serious candidate? It isn’t even worth a serious discussion. There is, quite literally, no reason at all for a web site to be officially accepting donations for this cause. None.

And that is what politics in many ways has become. A joke. It’s not reality any more. It’s not a true representation of the best interests for the majority any more. It’s not the qualified leading those who need leadership any more. Elections are a game… and my life… your life… our country… are worth more than that.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com