Decision 2020: The next US president

Published 6:01 am Saturday, July 21, 2018

A game some are playing now involves asking participants to reconsider the U.S. presidents sculpted on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculpting began in 1927 and included presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Of the 45 men who have held that office, whom would you select to be featured in that spot — assuming, of course, that you have a magic wand in your pocket?

On Nov. 3, 2020, we will be voting for the president of the United States. Now is the time to be considering the qualities you would like in a president before all the ugliness surfaces.

Ideally, both Republicans and Democrats should select a person whom many Americans can endorse. Am I foolish to even suggest this?

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We know that we have diverse opinions/needs/wants, but we should start with absolute requirements and then move to preferred qualities.

Does this sound like a job you’ve chased? Yes, men and women will soon be chasing the presidency. A dialogue about what we want to include in the job description is a good place to start, and I’d prefer we keep the current president’s and past presidents’ names out of this exercise.

Later, we might consider the compromises we might be willing to make, given that such compromise is essential in most major decision making.

Know that I’m interested in your opinions, and perhaps some readers will respond to my list. Note that my list is not in priority order:

• Physical and mental fitness. Our next president will have a difficult, complex, demanding job.

• Knowledge of American history. In the scheme of things, we have a relatively short history as a nation. That history is complicated by a host of factors with diverse voices and positions. To understand American history is also to know the history of our relationships with other countries, the overt relationships and the more subtle ones.

• Sound grounding in American government. The candidates don’t need to be Constitutional scholars, but they should know how government works as provided in a host of documents.

• Ability to select cabinet members whose areas of expertise complement his/her own. Cabinet members should be of both parties, extremely competent, and reflect the diversity of the country.

• A comfort level with conflict and the ability to manage it so that good decisions can be made and supported.

• Honest, ethical. It’s all right to say, “At this juncture, I’m not in a position to talk about that.”

I want both parties to recognize that we have exemplary talent in this nation which calls for promoting the emergence of that leadership. Recycling the same personalities we’ve seen for decades will not position our country to move ahead to address issues in a host of areas that are important to our prosperity such as job development, health care, education, immigration, law enforcement, racism, military readiness, etc.

As a person who has always enjoyed a lively debate, I embrace sharing points of view. Endless quarreling is not, however, healthy for us. Divisions among us threaten what we have achieved as a great nation. I must remain hopeful.


Dr. Vivian Blevins is a Harlan County native. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students as well as prison inmates, and now teaches communication and American literature classes at Edison State Community College in Ohio. Reach her at