Democrat or Republican, male or female, older or younger, none of that makes any difference in answering this crucial question.
The Constitution of the United States needed only 322 words to define the job of President of the United States. The various candidates can speak to innumerable shades of meaning each one of those words, but there is only one job requirement that doesn’t have nuances of any sort. The most important function of the man or woman who is elected is that of commander-in-chief of the military forces of America. This requirement is not particularly confusing for any candidate, or any voter in this country. The key phrase in Article II reads:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States…
The question needs to be asked of each candidate of both parties. They should be able to answer it immediately. If they have to think about an answer, they should immediately withdraw from the primaries and the campaigns, because if they haven’t thought of this question before this point in the campaigns, then they certainly shouldn’t be President.
It’s up to the voters, the general electorate, to decide whether their answer is truthful or if their answer is one upon which you can trust them. And that question is simply:
As Commander-in-Chief, do you believe that you can send young men and young women, who are in our military, to their deaths?
No president in the history of this country has ever engaged in a military confrontation with no loss of American lives. The men and women who serve in the military have already thought about that very question before they raised their hands and swore to serve their country. These are remarkably brave people. They are people who have consciously agreed that they would be willing to lay their lives on the line for the defense of the country that they love.
Shouldn’t the President make the same commitment, even if only in their own minds? Is he or she willing to sacrifice others lives in combat to defend America against all enemies? Will he or she write condolence letters to their parents, spouses and children? Can the President, who ordered them to their deaths, live with the aftereffect of those deaths? Does whoever the individual who was stuck with the job of President have the ability to admit to himself or herself that some of the men and women that have been ordered to defend America might die? Would they still be able to give those orders?
For that matter, could any reader of this essay say in total honesty that they would be able, without qualm, to order their fellow citizens to go to their deaths? It’s one thing to be sitting at a bar with your friends, sipping a chilled beer and suddenly being hit with that question yourselves, but you’re not the President. You’re not even a candidate for the presidency.
If a candidate hasn’t thought about this question, they should never be president. If a candidate answers with some trite and meaningless drivel that doesn’t really answer the question, they shouldn’t be elected president either. But, regardless of how the candidate responds, ask yourself do you trust their answer, and can you trust the candidate?
If you ask yourself those two questions, and can answer “Yes” to both, you might have a pretty decent candidate on your short list.