Given the upcoming presidential election, I though it would be a good time to give my thoughts on my ideal presidential candidate. In fact, these qualities are what I would hope for in any elected official:

Respect for citizens rights
I would want a candidate who respects ALL the constitutional and other rights of the citizenry. I say ALL because when I go to vote it usually seems that I am forced to choose which rights I want to keep and which I am willing to sacrifice. One candidate may protect the rights to abortion and justice, while harming the right to keep and bear arms. Another candidate will do just the opposite. What I want is one candidate who will respect all of our civil rights.

Intelligence
All too often I hear people say that they want a president with whom they could envision themselves drinking a beer, or otherwise hanging out. They want someone who they can relate to. I want the opposite. I want a president who possesses great intelligence. When he or she finishes delivering a speech, I don’t want to have the feeling that “I could have done that”. In short, I want someone who is much more intelligent than me, not someone who makes me think that I could do their job.

Education
Somewhat related to my desire for an intelligent president, I would like a well educated one. Again, some voters seem to want a president who is on their level, but I would like one who has progressed further than I have in higher education. As I write this article I am currently in my 3rd year of law school, which means that at this time next year I will have spent 7 years in higher education (4 in college, 3 in law school). I would hope that a person who wishes to run the executive branch of the most powerful country in the world could manage to go to school at least as long as I have. I say this not because I think education is the only thing that defines a person, but because there are so many people who end up in positions of power, while failing to understand basic principles and history. For example, some senators seem to lack even a basic understanding of judicial review. Other leaders seem to lack an appreciation for due diligence when fact finding, history, and human nature, leading to unnecessary and bloody invasions of foreign countries. Any person in a position to make laws or control the administration of them should understand our legal system and history.

Courage
I also would want to see a president with courage. And by courage, I am not referring to one who is willing to sit safely in the White House while ordering members of the military to fight and die overseas. That does not take much courage. What does take courage is to stand up for civil rights, freedom, and truth, in the face of political opponents who would brand the president “soft on terror”. I would expect this courage to extend to domestic policy. An example would be the recent debate about new offshore drilling. It is clear that such drilling would not yield much oil, and any benefit would be many years away. Both Obama and McCain publicly stated these facts months ago, and then both candidates caved to pressure, calling for drilling. I am not suggesting that a president should never change his position, but to do so simply because it does not resonate with the lowest common denominator of the American public is quite sad.