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Why Would Anyone Want to be President of the United States?

Updated on May 30, 2013

“Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job” The Onion November 5, 2008

I was surfing the internet the other night when I came upon this web article. It was a humorous piece that was published the day after Barack Obama was first elected President. In typical Onion fashion it described what a thankless, stressful and unrewarding job President of the US is. Although the piece was only mildly funny, the idea stayed in my head causing me to ask the question: Why would anybody want this job? There never seems to be a shortage of men (and women) who line up every four years to run for the job. The person who is elected has to be thick skinned. Because no matter what they do, and how earnest they are, half the country will vilify them for their actions.

This job comes with intense scrutiny and criticism, often by people with competing agendas. Many times, the opposition is successful in establishing the reputation of the current officeholder. This has been the case since George Washington was elected to his first term but it has seemed to have gotten more viscous in the last 20 years. Bill Clinton was said to be a philandering liar with a dangerous left wing wife and George W Bush was looked upon as dumb, incompetent and evil. Many in the opposition think Barack Obama is an inexperienced leader who wants to change America into a Socialist, debt ridden country. It can also be tough when the president is unable to deliver on promises to his base he made while running. The current occupant of the White House received criticism from the far Left when he was unable (or unwilling) to deliver on campaign promises in his first term.

People run for a few different reasons. Some truly care about the direction the country is headed, some are passionate about a particular set of issues and some run for the power it offers. But no matter what the reason, all the candidates for POTUS share a few common traits.

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton | Source
George W. Bush
George W. Bush | Source


For a person to run for President, he (or she) must have an enormous ego and it can only be fed by being President. Candidates feel that they, and only they, have the answers and ability to deal with and solve the nations problems. The best Presidents have had the biggest egos. Lincoln ran for office just as the country was boiling over to Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt was elected during the nations worst Depression. Washington, Adams and Jefferson took the job when the nation was in it’s infancy and there was no blueprint on how to govern this new type of nation (or how the President should act). All thought they had the answers. However, sometimes ego gets in the way. Richard Nixon’s ego led to his resignation from Office in 1974.

The President is the most recognized person in the world. To citizens of the US, he is our leader. To the rest of the world, he is a symbol of our country. Wherever he goes, people cheer.

Ego is the main reason people will run for the nation’s highest office, and had a lot to do with the two reasons I have listed below.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln | Source


The President of the US has a salary of $400,000 annually. In addition he has expense accounts for entertainment and travel for an additional $169,000. The perks of being the President are enormous. He and his family live rent free in the most famous house in the world. They are attended to 24/7 by a highly skilled staff. His rides in a heavily armored Cadillac and is surrounded by Secret Service bodyguards constantly. He travels in the Presidential aircraft, a highly modified Boeing 747 with the call sign Air Force One. Even when his term is over, he is entitled to a pension of $191,300 a year.

But this is peanuts to what CEOs in the private sector can make. The website Executive Paywatch reports the head of Apple, Timothy Cook, was paid $377 million in 2011. This is well ahead of the person in 2nd place, David Simon of Simon Property Management. (He made a paltry $137 million last year). The average CEO in the top 100 made about $20 million last year. I’m certain that anyone who is elected President has the ability get one of these sweet paying jobs if he had chosen to go into the private sector.

Living here is one of the perks of being President
Living here is one of the perks of being President | Source


In the 236 years since this nation was established, only 43 men have become POTUS. The Presidency of the United States is a very exclusive club. Even the most obscure Presidents like John Tyler, Gerald Ford or Rutherford B. Hayes will always be on the list of Presidents, while the memory of other great men fade into obscurity. Long after he is dead, a President will live on in the history books that tell the story of this great nation.



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    • billd01603 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks Walt. Good Points. I appreciate you reading and comments.

    • billd01603 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Worcester

      Oh no problem Phoebe, I wrote " only 43 men have become POTUS." maybe I should have written "there have been 44 Presidents"

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      6 years ago

      It's a technical thing, but the fact is, the count is still 44. I wrote the comment not to point out an error in your hub, but rather to clarify the fact that there have been 44 presidents as of right now. I should have been more in-depth when I wrote the comment. For any misunderstanding of my original post, I apologize.

    • billd01603 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Worcester

      Phoebe, I know , but Grover Cleveland was President for 2 non consecutive terms. He was President #22 and #24.

    • EricDockett profile image

      Eric Dockett 

      6 years ago from USA

      When I was in college one of my professors said the best candidates for President, the only people who are really wise enough to do the job the way it ought to be done, are also wise enough not to want the job to begin with. I'm sure other people have said that, but it was the first time I heard it, and I thought he was probably right.

      The older I get, and the more I pay attention to politics and world events, the more I hope my old prof was wrong!

    • Travel'n Person profile image

      Travel'n Person 

      6 years ago

      Even running for office is a terrible job. Your personal life and every past mistake you've made (and who hasn't) is open to criticism. I'm surprised we get as many people to run as we do.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor 

      6 years ago

      I have to disagree that they are not in it for the money. The only way I could believe that is if a President donated all the money he made attributable to being and having been President to charity or how about just giving it back to the taxpayers (which many Presidents were rich enough to do even before becoming President)! The Obamas have already cost the taxpayer 1.5 Billion dollars - What CEO has that at his disposal in just months of obtaining his CEO status? For example name me one Community organizer who is qualified to become a mega salaried corporate CEO? That aside, the comparison to corporate CEOs is ludicrous because it is not a given that any candidate for President could be a Corporate CEO commanding a mega salary which btw is only a phenomenon of modern times. Even a failure as President is guaranteed untold wealth by virtue of the office he once held and if they are in it for power, power is money. If you are making the case that someone can take a job with the money being a major factor and claim they didn't do it for the money because someone else has a job that pays many times as much really requires a willing suspension of disbelief, to quote our failed X Secretary of State.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      6 years ago

      "In the 236 years since this nation was established, only 43 men have become POTUS" --- There have actually been 44 presidents...


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