This election campaign brings to mind a haberdasher. A guy going broke selling men’s clothing. It brings to mind aristocrats. And, army generals, an engineer, and farmers. And, don’t forget professors.
If you think about our presidents as young men, these occupations must come up. They performed this work — before they took on the job of running a country. Before they assumed the job in which they shaped destinies of billions of people around the world.
Truman knew farming. He knew men’s clothing. He felt the pains of struggling in a business until he and the business were broke. He suffered a mother-in-law who voted for the other candidate.
In the White House, he made some of the most momentous decisions in the history of humanity. His was an extra-ordinary presidency. In many ways, he was extra-ordinary. And in many ways, ordinary. An ordinary guy. He played poker in the White House.
At one point, an old pal from his haberdasher days stopped by — to urge him to have this country recognize Israel at its birth. One ordinary guy, tears streaming down his cheeks, begging another ordinary guy — begging him to make such a huge and controversial decision.
Such things happen here. I met a man who was among the few allowed to visit Reagan in hospital after he was shot. He was an old pal of the President’s. He was a regular guy, who made furniture. He had been one of the Midwest small-town guys who raised money to buy young Reagan a wardrobe — back when he decided to take his chances in Hollywood.
Yes, so many of our presidents are politicians from their toenails to the hair on their head. By the time they reach the White House they are, but so many of them spent years as ordinary folks.
Hoover worked as an engineer. Eisenhower banged around the military for years, many as a junior officer. Carter managed his peanut farm. Reagan broadcast baseball games. Later he ran a trade union. Bush the Second ran an oil business, then a baseball club.
Of course, aristocrats have graced the office as well. JFK was one. As was FDR. And, Bush the First, in a way. And, some of our presidents have been politicians for most of their working lives. I suspect Clinton began practicing politics in his crib. When he was a boy, some of LBJ’s relatives seriously suggested he would be president.
Our founders rejected kings. They scorned the idea that power should be absolute. And, that it might be passed along to family members. They recognized that people who enjoy power often get tastes for it so strong as to turn them into tyrants. Knowing this, George Washington insisted he not be treated as royalty. Our early leaders wanted former presidents to slip back into ordinary lives. Among the people they once ruled.
Ours don’t do that these days. They get special treatment until they die. But still, we kick ‘em out. We the people. We search for the next one — be he or she a baker, a candlestick maker. Or, a community organizer cum professor. Or, a venture capitalist/businessman.
From Tom...as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan writes about financial, political, and other subjects from his home near Oneonta, in addition to his radio shows and new TV show. For more information about him, visit his website at www.tomasinmorgan.com