Why we need a Presidential Aptitude Test

(I’m a guest at Open Thought Vortex Magazine today, proposing the creation of a Presidential Aptitude Test for future elections. Unfortunately, it’s too late for this one…)

imageIf I’m being honest, I have about as much enthusiasm for our choices in presidential candidates as I do for licking a 9-volt battery; I know the result won’t kill me but the anticipation itself is enough to make my tongue curl — because I know it’s still going to sting. As I’ve watched the process of elimination over the last several months, I can’t help but wonder how, with a population of more than 324 million, this is the best we have to offer? Maybe we forgot some people somewhere?

Like Rhode Island. It’s small and easy to overlook.

It also got me wondering why becoming a presidential nominee isn’t harder. Don’t get me wrong, I realize not just any millionaire can become a presidential candidate. But in a country where you have to pass a background check and psychological interview before landing a job at McDonald’s, you’d think we’d at least require the same of someone vying for a position as the Most Powerful Person in the World. It seems like we might even feel obligated to other nations to make sure the Commander-in-Chief of the planet’s most advanced military doesn’t have mommy or daddy issues, an axe to grind, isn’t a power tripper and has a working knowledge of international affairs that extends beyond Fox News. (Read more at OTV Magazine)



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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

53 thoughts on “Why we need a Presidential Aptitude Test”

      1. Honestly Ned, as a Canuck up here watching the goings on with our neighbours to the south, I can’t tell you how many times I have sat there staring at the television thinking, really? This is the best there is to run for the position of being the president of the United States?

        1. I blame it on the Reality TV mentality that has swept our nation. The more outrageous, the better. I’m sure Honey Boo Boo is already preparing to run for the 2020 elections.

  1. “I can’t help but wonder how, with a population of more than 324 million, this is the best we have to offer?”

    I’ve been wondering this too. Do the really intelligent, innovative, forward-thinking, nice and ethical people say, “No way in hell I want to be President?” When people go to the polls, do they think, “I’m going to vote for the worst candidate and see what happens?” I’m really disturbed by so much that has been said in this election year, it makes me cringe.

    1. I think we have become so desensitized by what we hear and see on “reality tv,” social media, etc., that the things that would have been unthinkable to say 10 years ago have become blasé.

      And that really worries me.

      1. I know. Donald had his own reality TV show and sometimes I think he believes he’s still in it…being able to say and do whatever without repercussion because he’s the boss. And people love it, which is even more scary than the man himself. As for the Dems, well, the choices aren’t much better. I guess we just go vote and see what the next person does for four years. And then we decide if we want to move to Canada.

        1. So true, on both counts. I understand that people are fed up with politics as usual. But thinking that Trump is the enswer is like believing the best way to get rid of a garden mole is by dropping a nuke on it.

          All I can say is, whoever is elected, it will be a true test of the system of “checks and balances” our forefathers had the insightfulness to create.

  2. My dad offered up an interesting counterproposal – everyone who thinks you would have to be crazy to actually want to be president in this day and age enter into a new party. Then, much like a jury duty summons, a candidate is randomly drawn out as the parties potential nominees and then require them to campaign as part of their civic duty. While it might produce some inexperienced candidates, it would, on the other hand, eliminate some of the mud slinging as all potential candidates would be involved in a game of not it.

  3. I’ve settled on “Meteor 2016, just end it already.” Or perhaps our alien lizard overlords will show up and harvest us for food? The Bilderbergers? Illuminati? The fact that these grim sci/fi ideas feel like a potential rescue from what ails us, does speak to a certain lack of political enthusiasm.

    1. There’s an old Rod Serling short story about aliens coming to Earth with a book that humans believe is their Bible of sorts. Eventually, they begin to decipher the language and realize the title is called “To Serve Man.” Humans then begin to think of the aliens as subservient beings who gave come here to be our slaves. Eventually, someone breaks the language enough to realize it’s actually a cook book… I think of these elections the same way. A huge misunderstanding based on our own assumptions rather than understanding.

      1. Ha! I like that, a cook book. That’s exactly what this election is like, something must surely being getting lost in translation here, because y’all be sounding crazy 🙂

  4. This comment might sound offensive but really isn’t intended that way. Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, here comes a thought from an outsider: perhaps part of the problem is that you see him or her as The Most Powerful Person on Earth. Perhaps this person needs to be seen as human, and as messy and prone to the foibles of being human as any other person. Presidents are supposed to be (like any other democratic leader) public servants (emphasis on “servant”), and it seems to me that Hilary and Donald have everything else in mind but that. They don’t want to serve, they want to control. As Shakespeare said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I know that the presidency doesn’t allow for “absolute power,” but I wonder if they really know that. And yes, some sort of screening process would be a great idea, for any country. 🙂

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Lynette — and no offense taken. You’re right that somewhere along the way, the role of “servant” has been juxtaposed. Our elected officials are supposed to be a representative of the people, not just “some” people or those with the deepest pockets. It is definitely about control and power, and far from what our forefathers had intended. Great point, Lynette 😉

  5. And suddenly Rob Ford’s “less than desirable antics in a public politician” aren’t looking so bad…plus we have a Prime Minister with nice hair… I think both sides of the border are facing dark days.

    1. Indeed. When the best thing you can say about your president or prime minister is that they have good hair, it’s definitely dark times. And if Trump is elected, we don’t even have the hair thing going for us…

  6. Sublime, Ned. You got me at the end,
    “At this moment, someone is being interviewed to determine their experience level; if they reflect the right kind of commitment and ideals; and whether they possess qualities that will prove successful for themselves and those around them.

    And if they do, they’ll be issued a hair net.”

    Government and lobbyists have marginalized the working class in this country. I run a business with my husband. We pay the entry level employees a living wage and I am VERY vocal in my opposition to the Kings of Industry who are opposed to raising minimum wage; if you can’t afford to pay employees a living wage then you can’t afford to own a business. People do not work FOR other people, they exchange priceless hours of their lives for wages PERIOD. Life is not about the money. Politics shouldn’t be about the money either. It doesn’t matter how much money or power they have, in the end they’ll be just like all of us- dead.

    Oh my! I guess you touched a nerve.

    Wonderful piece.

    1. Very well said and so very true. The priorities in politics have have become so murky, and so far from what our forefathers had intended. Thanks for being a great example of the kind of relationship employers and employees should have, and how business doesn’t have to be a platform for greed in order to be successful.

      And it’s great to see your big, beautiful eye around these parts again 😉

  7. Amen, again. We need a license to drive a car, but no license to vote? Or – rather – no license to run for office? Really.

    1. Addendum: No license, registration, or insurance. (well, okay, “technically” you have to register to vote, but…. no pre-registration testing is required….)

  8. I agree 100%… there is no choice with Dems or Reps *sigh* I think I am going to vote Libertarian Party this year! I have heard good things about Gary Johnson. I can’t NOT vote.. groan! At least that way I can have the bumper sticker on my car that says “Don’t blame me, I voted for the other guy!” LMAO! 😀

  9. Your proposal for a test sounds great. I’d add some practical tasks as well – not sure that Woodrow Wilson or some of the other intellectuals, were the best adapted to actually running things, or getting things done.
    When I read the start of this article, it occurred to me that this year, the political “process of elimination” has never seemed so much like the digestive one, with pretty much the same result.
    Sorry for the image, had to say it, now it is out of my system. The political system, as my grandmother used to say, needs a dose of salts to improve its disposition.

  10. I say that five golden tickets are hidden in Willy Wonka chocolate bars. Each person with a golden ticket reports to the White House on a specified date and time. The one left at the end of the White House tour wins and becomes the next Willy…er… president.

  11. An observation made in many times and in many places is that those most desperate to get the top job in a country are almost always the least deserving of it. 😦

  12. I’ve been proudly wearing my Underwood 2016 Tshirt for 2 months. I don’t care if Kevin Spacey’s character is fictional. He’s better than what we have this election cycle. At least Frank Underwood acknowledges he’s a scumbag.

  13. I’m not one to voice my political opinions on the internet, but I do sympathize with your dilemma. You have Donny the egocentric, and Hilary, the Obama clone. If I were American I’d be begging for Bernie. And note, as a Canadian, we are no different. Our choices are also limited to what we’re given to select from. Currently we have a baby Prime Minister, and the Premiere of Ontario is frightening, an extension of our former premiere who taxed us to death, while she continues on his legacy.
    We’re all screwed! 🙂

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