As a politically active person I have spent, and still spend, a lot of time weighing issues. I read about them, think about them, consider them, think about how my beliefs agree with or contradict my values. I read every book that teachers and professors assigned me, then went out and read a lot more.
I love to read most about the lives of great men and women. Reading about their thoughts and philosophies is eye opening as well. I certainly do not admire Mussolini, but the three biographies I read on him give me an idea of how he came to power and the dangers that poses to anyone else.
Reading Bastiat, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, James Madison, and many others helped to shape my thoughts on what I believe. The works of Marx, Stalin, Hitler, and others convinced me of their enormous evil.
All of this helped to shape my values and beliefs about general issues, such as the economy, and specific issues, such as abortion. I learned that you have to apply your thoughts on an issue to a values test. If you find that you have to support an issue that seemingly contradicts your values, then you at least have to explain that contradiction to yourself, if not others.
I assumed that anyone running for high office, such as senator, governor, or president, would put themselves through the same rigorous preparation. If they had weaknesses in knowledge or experience, they would bring on people to help to bridge those gaps and be ready. Then, once engaged, they would throw their entire efforts into performing as well as possible.
I found myself disappointed in 2008 when I signed on early for Fred Thompson. He still strikes me as a gravely intelligent individual who could have won in 2008 with a strong effort. Thompson gained supporters, raised money, then dissipated.
Rick Perry troubled me in the same way. Here was a guy with unquestioned experience. I liked him early. Perry touted success in Texas, raised gobs of cash, and seemed ready to bring some Texas back to the White House. However, he could not explain his departures from conservative belief. In the debates, he ran into trouble explaining anything.
What angers me is that these candidates convinced people to spend time and give money when they had not even done their most basic homework. Learn about public policy and its philosophical foundations. Look at your record and be prepared to defend it on practical and ideological grounds. Let me know by example that you are working as hard as your best volunteer.. This is how you convince voters that you are ready to be president. Most voters, except those who voted for Obama, do not want a messiah, but a first citizen. They want someone whose efforts, understanding, and abilities match the job.
Hard work, physical and intellectual, forms the foundation of that.
So those of you planning to run for president in the future. Work hard. Study harder. Above all, do not waste our time.