In the history of the Presidency of the United States of America, only 15 U.S. Senators have gone on to hold the office of President. Of those 15, only two went directly from the office of Senator to the office of President.
Those two men were John F. Kennedy and Warren G. Harding. Neither of them finished their 4 year term.
Why is it that, for the most part, Senators did not make good Presidental choices in the minds of the voters? Now In 2008, the only choices we have for candidates for the Presidency are existing U.S. Senators. Some wise man once said that “being a Governor (a much more popular office to transition to the Presidency in U.S. History) is like being the CEO of a corporation.” (I apologize because I found the quote but lost track of where I found it.) A Governor deals with running the State, managing budgets, managing personnel, balancing budgets, making very tough decision about how the State will spend its money, and must make tough choices in tough times as to which public programs may need to be cut. This is very similar to a CEO: slashing budgets when necessary, being accountable to the stockholders, firing people, strategizing about what direction the company should move for long term goals and results.
Therefore, it makes sense that Governors have an easier time of being considered a viable President. So what is it about Senators about which we need to find common ground to ensure that a Senator will make a good President?
Senators are about “the people”. They are paid to represent the constituents of their state. They also server on any one or more of a miriad of congression subcommittees. There is Ways and Means, Foreign Affairs, Energy, Homeland Security, Armed Forces, etc, etc. However, in general they don’t have any executive experience. And they are much more a “politician” than a governor is. That is, they must wheel and deal in congress to get things done. Governors don’t really need to participate in the same sort of tactics. Therein lies the problem, in the minds of voters, with Senators becoming Presidents. Voters don’t like politics.
As quoted from Wikipedia, Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among approximately 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.
Woodrow Wilson once said “it is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work”. So most of the work done by a Senator is done behind closed doors.
So there is something to be said for a Senator having the experience to be president. A successful Senator masters the art of compromise, working with their party, the opposing party, and the undecided to make progress. A good Senator must be a solid speaker, at times relying on fact and figures, and at other times or at the same time, relying on his oration abilities to sway opinions or inspire action. They must do all of this without creating separation, division, or negative attitudes.
Of the pool from which we have to choose a democratic nominee, there are only two left and both are Senators. Which one fills the role of Senator the best, and which one has mastered the art of being a Senator to the degree that it will make that person a good President?
It’s time for you to decide. We are one nation, indivisible. So let’s not start dividing us now.