The 2016 presidential campaign season has just started up its proverbial engines, and many see this election as simply a decision of Republican versus Democrat as opposed to a competition between two unique individuals who happen to belong to their respective political parties. As Paul Krugman wrote in a recent New York Times article, regardless of who our next president is, their platform will be fairly predictable simply based on their party label. This reality clearly has palpable effects on our nation and its governing system — as parties become more extreme and drift further away from one another, it becomes increasingly difficult to effectively govern a nation that is yearning for some degree of action out of Washington D.C.

Krugman wrote, “ … there has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less.” To me, the personal characteristics of an individual vying to become arguably the single most important person on the face of the planet should certainly have an effect on voting tendencies. For instance, a candidate may possess all the right ideas, but if they cannot communicate those policies or lack the necessary skill of conveying those ideals to our nation’s policy makers, then it would not be wise to put that person in a position of considerable power. Or, if a candidate is particularly divisive and is unable to work cooperatively with other members of government, then that person is, similarly, likely unfit for office. Personal traits can go a long way in alleviating many of the issues that currently bottleneck our governing system.

Recently, there have been several campaign announcements — Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio have all told the world they will attempt to become the next president of the United States. The fact remains that all of these candidates carry their own personal baggage, and both parties are already churning out attack advertisements targeting one another.

Thus, it is possible that we haven’t found one uniting persona because of both parties’ immediate inclination to write off any member of the opposing party as wholeheartedly incorrect in their political assertions. Certainly, part of campaigning involves juxtaposing oneself with the other candidate with regards to policy platforms. However, as Mr. Krugman puts it, “(this) level of political polarization not (been) seen since the Civil War.”

What this country truly needs is an individual who possesses not only a sound mind able to advocate positive policy reforms, but also the all-too-important quality of being able to serve beyond their party label and work alongside — in a friendly manner — those across the aisle. Obviously, this type of person is fairly hard to come by, but some of our greatest presidents have been able to fit this description. Names such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and others conjure up feelings of better times in simpler eras.

Yet all of these men faced tremendous adversity stemming from political opponents — but their personal traits helped to guide the nation through those times of peril.

Can we expect another legendary president to ascend our nation’s political hierarchy any time soon? We can only hope. For now, however, it remains imperative that we elect someone with a personality that will be more than suitable for the White House. Moreover, we must all work to collectively shed the extreme labels of our political parties, and try to once again form a government that will cater to the true needs of an increasingly anxious population.

Obviously, most of my rhetoric sounds extremely idealistic and general in nature. Nonetheless, I would contend that these ideals aren’t necessarily at the conscious forefront of some of those who occupy the highest positions in our government. Hopefully this message will be heard by our current leaders, along with those who aspire to one day be in government — even the presidency.

Benjamin Keller is an LSA freshman.

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