When I was a girl, far back in the 70s, we were taught that anyone could be President. The only qualifications, and this was emphatic, were to be a natural born citizen and be at least 35 years of age. That was it.
The things we learn as young children end up, due to some sort of misfunction of the brain—possibly that rush of hormones at puberty onset—being the strongest lessons of our lives. It’s not that we cannot learn more and learn, on occasion, something new, it’s just that those ideas, those mindsets, those prejudices, that are absorbed in childhood, are the ones that are the most difficult to shake.
As I work through IFS therapy, I find that almost everything I have to deal with is rooted in childhood somewhere. All my fears and diagnoses can be traced back to what I was taught, by word or by physical violence, as a child. And I am not the only one. This is the reason, after all, that churches know they must indoctrinate the young children. Every study ever done shows that adults are more religious if they were deeply indoctrinated before puberty.
The problem that creates with this pithy little teaching we received in grammar school is that, especially those who were over-indoctrinated and under-educated, it is an axiom that we put full faith in. Anyone can be president.
We were never given any realistic view of what it actually means to be president. Most of us never learned until we were forced to take PoliSci in college—and not all of us have to take it, it depends on your school’s structure—what the president actually must do, what his limitations are, how the real work gets done. You might have been fortunate and had a high school Government teacher cover it, but it’s still not the depth that is needed.
One thing that is never discussed is that you have to have a certain personality and certain traits to be president. You have to be extremely flexible. You have to listen to and consider information from multiple sources, you have to be teachable and know that you alone do not know everything. If you are lacking in those, you will be the next Hoover.
In Trump’s case, we have the unimaginable—worse than Hoover. Trump is Hoover and Nixon and every bad part of any good president we’ve ever had all rolled into one horrible atrocity that has now allowed the death of over 125,000 Americans and not shed one tear.
I don’t know if grammar school teachers still tell their students that anyone can be president. We really should change the lesson. We really should explain what it takes to lead any nation, or anything at all. It’s possible, probable, that none of us really put much thought into it before the last four years tore us apart. Now would be a good time to reassess how we teach our young children about the rolls they will have in their lives. And to learn ourselves exactly the sorts of things we should look for in the people we decide to vote for.