I have heard often times that the first disqualifying characteristic of a presidential candidate should be that they desire the office at all. I can understand the sentiment and only partly disagree.
Service to your country and your fellow citizens is an honorable career choice and only the individual holding the job can know what their true motives are. Results can be judged any number of ways but what is in a man’s heart is known only to him and God. However, service in the public sector or even the military is no indicator of virtue. As power corrupts so does absolute power have the potential to corrupt absolutely. Where else than in the service of the government – where your dictates can carry the weight of law and be enforced at gunpoint – can such ultimate power be found.
In more than 200 years of American history, the citizen soldiers that step forward to serve have forged a tradition of selflessness, sacrifice, and honor. In the early days of the Republic, the military could have easily installed Washington as the first American king. The choice to uphold their oaths is now now set as the weigh-stone against which today’s military leaders measure their own actions. These traditions of our armed services have also benefited the nation by providing a testing ground – a crucible if you will – that helps identify leaders worthy of being followed.
Though I believe military service would be beneficial to any holder of the Presidency, I am loath to change the Constitution to make that service a requirement of office holders. First, the political creatures that structure their lives around the attainment of power would be funnelled into our armed forces where they could cause untold damage. Also, like a peacetime draft, the “required” service can create an institutional resentment against the military that would drive away those actually desiring to serve and not attain. And finally, the founders saw that civilian control of the military was indeed another check against the totalitarianism that they had just recently escaped.
With all that said I thought I would post a short (haha) poll to see what people remember of our Presidents. Do you know which 12 never served? Make your selections and then check below for the answers.
Highlight the area below to see the correct answers. You may be surprised.
- John Adams
- John Quincey Adams
- Martin Van Buren
- Grover Cleveland
- William Howard Taft
- Woodrow Wilson
- Warren G. Harding
- Calvin Coolidge
- Herbert Hoover
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Bill Clinton
- Barack Hussein Obama II
(Hat tip to the every amusing and sometimes useful Ace of Spades HQ.)