Food For Thought

So You Want to be the President ... WHY?

by Dr. John E. Bonfadini, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, George Mason University

John Bonfadini

Grandma and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in June, and afterwards, we took a weekís vacation at Myrtle Beach with our youngest son and his family.

Days were devoted to sand and ocean. In the evenings, the grandkids like to visit Broadway at the Beach. Plenty there to do and buy. Ride Makerz, a model-car store, is the male version of Build-a-Bear. One evening my grandson Brandon was inside building another car while I sat outside on a boardwalk bench watching all the people.

As the groups of people walked by, a persistent thought kept running through my mind: Somebody really wants to be president of all of this humanity!

There were people of all races and creeds. The face of America is changing and becoming more diversified. There were many multi-racial families. Brandon, my grandson, was adopted from South Korea and made our family multi-racial, but no one noticed. America has become more complex, and whoever wants to be president will have to please a much broader spectrum of humanity than leaders of the past.

We are a well-fed populace. A large percentage of the people I watched from the boardwalk bench were on the chubby side, with way fewer skinny Minnies than in the old days. I donít think food shortages will soon be a campaign issue here. Helping other people of the world who are hungry ó thatís a political issue for the next president. Iíd like to suggest that all those people I saw who are a bit overweight donate one meal a week to feed the hungry of the world. It would be good for all concerned.

People are more outspoken today, and express their ideas in many ways. Almost everyone had a shirt with a saying. The messages covered a wide spectrum of ideas. There were love messages, team logos, comic sayings, sexual statements, pictures of animals, pictures of kids and family, and even political points of view. Then there were the tattoos. Wow. I just didnít realize that so many grandmothers and mothers have body graffiti. We certainly are a people who like to let others know what we think. So, Mr. or Mrs. Future President, be prepared for a lot of input. Youíre not going to be the leader of a passive population. I also noticed in the parking lot many cars with bumper stickers espousing different ideas. I think itís going to be difficult to please all these people. So Iím warning all presidential candidates ó itís likely you wonít be loved by many and will probably be disliked by a lot.

A lot of people were talking on cell phones. Many were wearing earphones. I was hoping they might be listening to a good book, but most were on their way to losing their hearing, listening to noise (I have a hard time calling it music). Note to Mr. or Mrs. Future President: Those fancy smart phones are giving people a lot of instant, unfiltered information. Youíre going to need good communication skills to handle these constant news flashes. Oops!! There goes my iPhone. Oh. Just another cartoon about the president. I get one forwarded almost on an hourly basis.

Mr. or Mrs. Future President, all those kids just got out of school. I donít know if weíre really teaching them the right things. Every year the elected representatives say they are going to build a better student ... now thereís an idea for a new store ... Build a Better Student. Elected officials are always saying theyíre going to improve education, but seldom does anything ever get done. I think weíre spending too much money on SMART PHONES and not enough on SMART KIDS.

Grandma is sitting in a wheelchair next to me. She broke her foot and canít put any weight on it for eight weeks. She has a special boot that cost $400. My government-provided health care paid for it. That allowed me to have sufficient finances to purchase some exotic shoes for the grandkids and me. I love my New Balance walking shoes. Whoever the next president is better not touch my health care. If I had to pay the bill for grandmaís broken foot, Iíd never be sitting on this bench in Myrtle Beach.

Mr. or Mrs. Future President, you realize that you and your family will be the punch line of every late-night comedian. You wonít be able to do anything that someone doesnít make a joke about. Your every flaw will be scrutinized, so be prepared and if you donít have a thick skin, apply for another job.

We spend the last evening of our vacation on the strip in downtown Myrtle Beach. Iíve always been a proponent of getting everyone to vote. Mr. or Mrs. Future President, Iím not sure all of these people are really qualified to vote. I wasnít completely sure what many were qualified to do, but Iím guessing that the ability to make intelligent decisions isnít one of their qualities. Maybe they just need more schooling. Mr. or Mrs. Future President, itís easy for you to end up with a ďbig head.Ē So many people want to talk to you. They even will let you kiss their kids. You have the keys to the biggest piggy bank in the world. Who cares if the bank is empty ... we all want some anyway and many people donít like putting money in your piggy bank. Can you have the courage to say NO to everyone? There are a lot of politicians out there wanting the presidential job. The winner will be the leader of the free world. Just remember, that doesnít mean that everything is free. To the final candidates in the race, I congratulate you, and please be nice to the other candidates. It sets a good example for our children. You know, the same kids whose future youíre always talking about protecting. Show them some class now. A lot of us will see you at the polls.

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