Running for President

Recently Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made a brief pass at running for President in 2016. He has as good a resume as other likely candidates and better than many. After careful consideration and advice from experts, he determined that a run would take too much of his time and conflict with his executive responsibilities. What an amazing epiphany!

Anyone who has made a serious run in the past, even if unsuccessful, could have easily told him how many of his waking hours would go into the effort. The answer is all of them! Running for President is either a full-time job or it is just an exercise in self-aggrandizement. I am guessing that The Donald will have time to hawk time-shares while he toys with another run.

Even if you believe it is too early to get personally invested in the coming election, this fact has important implications for you. Has your Governor or Senator announced his candidacy, or is he making moves that indicate that he will? If so, he is effectively going on a long, paid sabbatical. He will no longer serve the interests of his constituents, focusing solely on his ambitions for higher office. A principled public servant would offer his resignation upon announcing his candidacy, or perhaps even a bit earlier when he departs to drum up support and money for the run. (Yes, I am aware that I seem to be ignoring female candidates, but it is burdensome to maintain gender neutrality in the text. If  you wish, just think “he or she” wherever appropriate.)

Governors really matter in the lives of their constituents. And irrespective of Mark Twain’s sardonic remark about the dangers of a sitting legislature, each Senator also matters. The Senate makes many important decisions and often the vote margin is small. So if your Governor or Senator is mounting his political steed without dismounting from office, I suggest you think about whether he is someone you can really trust to look out for your interests.

I am directing these remarks at those of you in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. So, wake up!

As a historical aside, you probably noticed that I restricted this discussion to Governors and Senators, although candidates have sometimes had different backgrounds. In the early days of our history, the office of Secretary of State was a stepping stone to the presidency. And that is also an office with heavy responsibilities that affect everyone. However, since the Hatch Act of 1939, no sitting Secretary of State can run for President, so this is now moot. The other frequent source of candidates is the office of Vice-President. But aside from such outliers as Dick Cheney, they are usually inconsequential and no one would even notice if they just went fishing. As John Nance Garner put it succinctly, “the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit (expurgated version).”