What are they thinking?

In the heat of the battle for the Democratic nomination, and the tuning up for the general election fight to come, it’s easy to overlook the essential question of why anyone in their right mind would even want to be President. What would motivate someone to seek the office?

Granted, there’s a great deal of power and attention focused in the US Presidency, with the potential for increased fortunes once one’s service is done. But look at the many sacrifices required to even be considered a contender for the position: your every utterance and twitch will be endlessly scrutinized and debated by pundits, any semblance of a normal lifestyle encompassing regular sleep and a modicum of “alone time” becomes an alien abstraction, having a skin thicker than elephant hide is a necessary but not sufficient precondition, your own personal wealth is put on the line, and it takes a Herculean effort to avoid becoming beholden to some deep-pocketed but otherwise unsavory people and special interest.

All of this reminds me of a passage from Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Imperial Earth:

“…in this Centennial year she was President not only of the United States, but also of Earth. And, of course, she had not asked for either job; if she had done so — or even if she had been suspected of such a faux pas — she would have been automatically eliminated. . .It had taken the human race several thousand years to realize that there were some jobs that should never be given to the people who volunteered for them, especially if they showed too much enthusiasm. As one shrewd political commentator had remarked: ‘We want a President who has to be carried screaming and kicking into the White House — but then will do the best job he possibly can, so that he’ll get time off for good behavior.'”

So why do you think each of the main contenders is seeking the presidency? And what does that say about each candidate’s fitness for the office?

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