Why Good Men Don’t Become President Anymore

President-elect Obama became President Obama today. It is worth taking a minute to reflect on the nature of his office.  Exactly what has he gotten himself into?

Good men rarely become president. Good people don’t even want to be president. Once in a while, one slips through the cracks. George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. Grover Cleveland (not kidding). Maybe Barack Obama will be added to that list some day. It’s too early to tell.

I have some doubts. Here’s why: becoming president requires years of campaigning and fundraising, handshaking and deal-making — no one can possibly endure the modern campaign unless they thirst for power to their very core.

Campaigning for even minor office requires months of the candidate prostrating himself before people he’s never met. Making grand promises he couldn’t possibly keep. The things that must do to his mind. Especially if he starts buying his own hype.

Our candidate must hide his true beliefs. He has to tailor his opinions to match the median voter’s. He dares not follow his own heart or mind. He’d lose for sure.

Good people carry themselves with pride and dignity. The man or woman who voluntarily embarks on the modern campaign has neither.

And the media coverage. The spotlight so bright that it burns. Unkempt reporters always scurrying underfoot. Never a moment to yourself on the campaign trail.

Worse, the strain it puts on your family. Long weeks of separation. Unflattering exposés, revealing your relatives’ personal lives for millions to see.

Good people do not do that to their families.

Nor do good people seek power over other human beings. Morality in politics is that of Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic; might makes right. No parent would teach that to their child. It is wrong.

Yet it is the morality that men must follow to become president.

Politicians are terrible little creatures. May our children aspire to better things than the presidency.