My friend Mario asks, in light of today’s earlier post on JFK, that I repost this entry from January 4, 2008; it’s entitled “Please, No Politicians In My Family.” My vanity makes me happy to oblige Mario’s kind request.
Yesterday’s Iowa caucuses sparked the expected oohhing and aahhing about the glories of modern American democracy — about how “anyone can grow up to become President.” I sent this letter yesterday to a local DC radio station:
I’m appalled by everyone who called in today expressing hopes that one day one of their children ”might become President of the United States.”
My son, Thomas, is ten. I hope that he graduates from college and has a satisfying and lucrative career. But I’d much rather that he be even a janitor or a used-car salesman than become a successful politician. To succeed at politics – especially at the national level – requires duplicity and shamelessness rivaled only by arrogance. For my son to become President he would have to abandon nearly every moral precept that his mother and I try hard now to impart to him: honesty, forthrightness, decency, respect for others, and modesty. We emphatically do not want our son to yearn for power, for to do so would inevitably corrode his humanity.
Thomas, like nearly everyone else in this world, will be fit to rule himself when he is an adult. He is not, and never will be – again like everyone else – fit to rule others, even if those others elect him to do so.
Donald J. Boudreaux
UPDATE: Jon Murphy in the comments (and others in e-mails to me) object to my use of the word “trade” in the title. I’m sympathetic to those objections. My lame defense is that my title plays off of H.L. Mencken’s 1933 essay on Grover Cleveland: “A Good Man In a Bad Trade.”