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Industryweek 14280 Clown Mask G

Send in the Clowns?

June 9, 2015
Choosing an American president is a serious business, not clowning around, contends retired IW senior editor John S. McClenahen, who suggests several steps for responsible citizen involvement.

For millions of Americans, the country is again engaged in a political circus not worth attending. It’s irrelevant. To the most cynical or jaded, those who would be president of the United States are a bunch of political clowns, endlessly descending from clown planes and piling out of clown cars during a quadrennial silly season.

Does the United States need more clowns? Certainly not in public service. And specifically not in the presidency.

Although an inconvenient truth for some citizens, the choosing of a president of the United States is serious business, for campaign words uttered and campaign behavior do matter. They matter as much as your company’s reasons for being in business.

That the presidential political process too often does not get the serious attention it deserves is, in part, because some candidates’ media commercials and robocalls are more intrusive than informative. In part because some candidates’ statements are more platitudes than specifics. And in part because voters are just tired of elected representatives -- in local, state, and federal government -- who are more selfish than selfless.

The vast majority of Americans are not running for president of the United States. Nevertheless, each American not on the hustings has a vital, a consequential, job to do. It is no less than to scrutinize those folks who are running for president -- and to assess content of their statements and the depth of their character.

Envision the task of evaluation in business terms -- as if you were selecting the most qualified person to preside over your organization.

Envision the task of evaluation in business terms -- as if you were selecting the most qualified person to preside over your organization, a person who would faithfully execute its by-laws and would seek change in the pursuit of excellence.

First, ask yourself what political, economic, and social issues matter most to you.

Second, review the resumés the candidates have posted and read through their statements of purpose.

Third, undertake a more detailed review of those persons whom you believe are the most compelling candidates. As part of your review, mentally or manually list candidates’ assets and liabilities.

Fourth, question the candidates -- on the Web or in person, if possible. Listen to their answers -- and observe their body language. Seek to determine if any of the candidates is a clown disguised in a pinstripe suit or a pants suit.

Fifth, go back to point No. 1 and compare your critical issues to the candidates’ stances -- or absence of stances.

Sixth, don’t hesitate to talk to other people about issues and candidates, but also don’t hesitate to keep your own counsel.

Taking part in the serious business of election a president of the United States is relevant. Not to take part is silly.

This is another of a series of occasional essay by John S. McClenahen, an award-winning writer and photographer who retired from IndustryWeek as a senior editor in 2006.

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