Monday, November 17, 2014

Polk Wisdom for 2016 Presidential Candidates

James K. Polk
11th President of the United States
I tend to get along with people of all political persuasions, and I even have friends that aren't political in the least.  Somehow they all put up with me, but that often means that my Facebook feed is a cacophony of political ideas and things.

One major topic is often the performance of the current Commander-in-Chief, Barack H. Obama.

Any objective review of the six years of Barack Obama will find much to be celebrated.  Sure, it hasn't been perfect, and there are some legitimate disappointments, but I think many Americans would say they're better off now than they were four years ago.

The votes on Election Day didn't bear that out, and it was a Republican wave at the ballot box.  Obama continues to take a lot of criticism and little praise.  He also saw his own party, in many cases, run away from him during that campaign instead of embracing the many successes of the past six years.  Finally, and arguably, this President and his family continues to be disrespected by more people than many of his predecessors.

I guess I'm guilty as much as the next person.  I haven't been touting the job President Obama has done since taking office in 2009, but I got to thinking yesterday about why anyone would still want to be President?

It's a thankless job, and you're expected to work each and every moment of each and every day to make lives better for Americans.  Successes are rarely noted, and failures are magnified.  Yet, a group of power hungry politicians line up every four years to be the next President of the United States.

James Knox Polk is a President many people don't remember unless you are a scholar of politics.  Elected in 1844, Polk was actually one of the most successful Presidents of the United States.  He pledged to serve only one term, and he did that (1845-1849).  His policies and military campaigns (including a successful war with Mexico) annexed Texas and expanded the borders of United States-controlled territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.  It was the realization of the Manifest Destiny.

Polk was a very consequential figure in American history, and he would need the American Express card today because no one knows him.  During his time in office, Polk worked almost all the time.  The rigors of his time in the office weakened him, and he came down with cholera in June of 1849.  He died on June 15 at the age of 53.  No other former president has died so young, and he had the shortest post-presidency of any U.S. President to survive his term.  That's what makes this quote so cautionary for those that would seek the office.

"With me it is exceptionally true that the Presidency is no bed of roses." 
--James Knox Polk

To the 2016 candidates, be careful that you know exactly what you seek when you decide to seek it.

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