Make my daughter POTUS someday
October 25, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

What does a 9-year-old need to do now to become President of the United States?

During Monday night's debate, my daughter asked what she needed to do, starting now, to become POTUS at some point in the future.

Potentially useful information: she is 9; in 4th grade at a parochial school; gets decent 'grades' (they don't start with letter grades until 5th grade) but struggles with math purely because she thinks it's boring. She is an insatiable reader and loves to write (she's working on a book right now). She's danced since she was 3, taken gymnastics longer than that, plays violin and sings with the choir. She's a Girl Scout.

Family information: we are about as white as you can get, she and her two younger brothers are being raised Catholic, though my husband is agnostic/athiest. Parents are highly educated (PhD, JD). I'm at home, my husband is upper management. Based on current numbers, we're at the bottom of the 1%. Neither of our families of origin are or ever were near that, as far as I'm aware. We are both US citizens, though my husband was born in Canada of American parents. She does hold Canadian citizenship through him - we established that when she was born, as GWB was POTUS and I wanted to keep all options open. Both my husband and I are progressive politically and socially.

So, MetaFilter, what say you? What does she need to do, starting now?
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse to Law & Government (53 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Don't let anyone ever take video or pictures of you doing anything but being on your absolute best behavior.
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on October 25, 2012 [20 favorites]

Mostly? Keep her head down. Make sure no pictures of her in skimpy clothes or doing anything inappropriate get taken by her friends or on cell phones or on Facebook. Be careful about what she dresses as for Halloween. Those things will become incredibly important in future elections.
posted by brainmouse at 9:58 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Intense and sustained study of skin care, fashion sense, personal grooming and styling, poise, and elocution.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:00 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's anything she needs to do at this point to become POTUS, other than not committing crimes and getting passing grades in school - but this sounds like a situation you could exploit to get her to do things like her homework...

seriously, though - I would try to encourage her interest by watching appropriate documentaries or TV shows about politics and talking about them, and setting up field trips to your local/state political offices with any tours you can get on. Take her to some protests on issues she cares about (the peaceful, fun ones) and show her politics in action. Have her write a letter to the editor for the newspaper. Things like that. If her school has debate, have her participate, or just have her debate issues over the dinner table with your family. She'll learn and remember these things regardless of if/when she changes her mind about her career ambitions.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:05 AM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

Public speaking skills. Volunteer work. Study geography and world history.

Learn Spanish.
posted by erst at 10:05 AM on October 25, 2012 [16 favorites]

Also, cultivating a really, really thick skin and self-esteem as far as other peoples' concept of "being a woman" is concerned. Women running for public office either get immediately criticized by their opponents for either not being feminine enough, or being too feminine. Fortunately, as more and more people are rolling their eyes at such a criticism, it reflects on the person saying it rather than the accused, but Traditional Values are still going to be around when she runs for office. She'll need to both not be phased by it, and know when to engage and when not to. The average citizen can say "go fuck yourself," a political candidate cannot.
posted by griphus at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Don't give up on math. Someday you will need to be able to check other people's math to be sure they are being honest with you. (This goes for buying a car, as much as for evaluating budget numbers or troop numbers as President!) Math is like a superpower that anybody can acquire with enough persistence.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

Network, network, network. As many and as diverse a set of friends and acquaintances as possible, especially (I'm sorry to say) wealthy and well-connected ones.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2012 [9 favorites]

Is she a natural-born citizen of the United States? You say she holds Canadian citizenship but you do not say where she was born or whether she is a dual citizen.
posted by dywypi at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2012

Came here to say basically what Rock Steady said — make lots of really rich friends now. That way, she can go to them as life-long friends when she's running for office. Running for office is 99% fundraising. You can't get your foot in a door if you don't have some wealthy backers.

Also, time to start thinking about how to get into an Ivy League university, and, from there, finishing on top of the class.
posted by General Malaise at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

I would suggest starting to learn more about how government and law work. You know - nuts-and-bolts stuff like how a bill becomes a law, what the Constitution is, how voting works, mundane stuff like "what does the president actually do" as well as "who are the people in the cabinet and what do they do".

But I would also recommend starting to entertain a little bit of devil's advocate thinking about common issues that get her attention - it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the people opposed to you on an issue are being mean stubborn butt-heads - but that doesn't lead us anywhere. Being able to humanize the people you're talking with who are opposed to you on an issue is hard, but it's a key point of diplomacy, I believe - you need to know how to see past the Tea Party bluster to see the guy who's scared that he's in more debt than he ever thought he'd be and doesn't know how to get out of it and never knew enough about how the government worked to know what control he could have had over it.

That takes a lot of practice, and it's something you can introduce now - this is exactly when my father started introducing it to me, simply by asking questions about people's possible motivations to get me thinking ("Sally is so dumb for thinking that we shouldn't save that national park!" "Hmm. Sally's works for a lumber mill, and if we save that park then Sally's father loses his job. I wonder if that may be why she thinks that?" "....Oh. Huh. So, wait, can we save the park and her dad's job?" "That's a good question, kid. What do you think we can do to take care of both?...")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

After thoroughly training her in Krav Maga, have her begin to volunteer with political organizations for election campaigns, maybe work in a congressional office or state capitol.

Train her to learn to read subtext, minds, body language, and to differentiate between what people say they're going to do, and what people do. And to hide her own thoughts and views.

Also have her watch the TV series "Boss" on repeat so she knows what she's getting into.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 10:17 AM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Once she graduates high school, of course, ivy league or nothing. Ivy league law school is probably a good idea, although not strictly necessary. After graduation she may come back to her state of origin and renew the old ties with the local political machinery and begin the long journey of establishing political bona fides.

Sadly the populist route is no longer an option. Here's to you, Huey Long.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start getting involved in politics yourself so that you have an established network of contacts that she can call on when she wants to be involved in politics later. Join a party, work on their campaigns, meet the people who make things happen behind the scenes.

If plausible, get her into the kind of -- probably private -- schools that the children of the politically powerful attend.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:21 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

A life of service starting now. Also, study Debate as early and often as possible. An Ivy League school wouldn't hurt anything. Joining a service based Sorority (if such archaic things still exist ten years from now) will help with networking.

I think as she gets older though, she may realize that the job of President is a pretty terrible job. Presidents age like crazy due to the stress of the job. You lose your privacy, and frankly, I think prudent suspicion is the watch-word when people are eager to take on jobs that are kind of shitty.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:37 AM on October 25, 2012

She needs to pursue a degree and initial career in law and/or banking, preferably via an old-money conservative school (think Yale, not UC Berkeley). In parallel, heavy activity in student government and either Democrat or Republican party politics will help. Run for local office at a young age, like city counsellor or some other position in the state's capital city, to get into the public eye, with a few terms. Then run for congressman, senator or governor of that state. After a few terms in that position, make a bid for the presidency. By then she should be at or well past middle age.

She needs to be an over achiever in everything she does, hobbies, etc.

She needs to be a people person. Be able to chat up anyone, anywhere, anytime, while being friendly and civil, regardless if the person is a kook or even an enemy.

She must have a strong set values and priorities, know what direction you want to push things. Be consistent to these values and priorities even when it`s unpopular to do so. Ideas come and go in fashion, she cannot flip flop between them. Nevertheless, right-of-center positions and actions will probably be lower risk to achieve POTUS than left-of-center positions. She needs to come to terms with this somehow.

She must be crafty and diabolical. I think it was Nixon who said that Pres. Eisenhower was the most sly and devious man he ever met, and (Nixon said) he meant those words in the best possible sense. Yes unless you are sly and devious you won`t last too long in that realm.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 10:37 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe the intermediate goal should be trying to become a Rhodes or Marshall scholar?
posted by mullacc at 10:37 AM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well, the current President of the United States got born to a teenage mother, lost all contact with his dad for years after his parents' split, bounced around from school to school, lived in a different country for a while, lived with his grandparents for a while, won a spot at a really nice private high school, played a little basketball, smoked a little dope, got good enough grades to get into a good college, did some community organizing, eventually focused on his school work enough to get into THE college everyone wants on their resume, wrote brilliantly enough there to be made President of their law review, studied Constitutional law, got some teaching jobs teaching Constitutional law, wrote an impressive book, served as a state legislator, made friends with other politicians on both sides of the aisle by playing lots of poker, served as a Senator, gave a very impressive speech at a convention, ran for President as a super long shot candidate, gave some really excellent speeches, hired a super tech-savvy, super-motivated, really excellent campaign staff, wrote another impressive book, gave some more really excellent speeches, narrowly defeated the formidable Hillary Clinton with various feats of verbal jujitsu, retail campaigned his ass off all over the country despite constant death threats, and won.

I think the lesson to take from that story is: be determined to succeed with or without stable support from your family, study the heck out of many things including especially writing and law, start with local public office and work your way up, learn to be a good public speaker, practice debating really tough opponents, be brave, and don't let the haters (and not to say she shouldn't run because of that -- she should run! -- but there WILL be some serious, scary hate directed at a female presidential candidate -- even 30 years in the future -- make no mistake -- I've gotten vicious gendered attacks ranging from the standard "You're ugly / masculine / fat / shrill" insults to rape and death threats just for being a small-time female political blogger) get you down.

(Of course she could always just leverage a political legacy family name / powerful family connections, court the heck out of corporate and wealthy donors and pour lots and lots of money into attack ads against her opponent. That seems to be the most commonly pursued route to power these days. But I'd like to think a 9-year-old would still be starry-eyed enough to want to take the righteous route.)

She could get an early start right now on her involvement in politics by writing letters to her representatives about issues that are important to her, and getting to know local politicians. Could you take her to a city council meeting? Could you take her to meet your state rep? Could she volunteer for a candidate she supports by stuffing envelopes or tossing candy in a parade? Could she pass out water to people waiting in line at the polls?

(That's all stuff my eight-year-old has actually done. Our state rep, mayor, and city council woman all know my kid by his first name. And he knows there are three branches of government, knows about federal v. state powers, has repeatedly read the Bill of Rights, and has the preamble to the Constitution memorized. That's not because he particularly wants to be president -- it's just how we roll in this house.)
posted by BlueJae at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2012 [14 favorites]

She should get good grades. She should start reading the newspapers and developing her knowledge and understanding of current events. She should start volunteering and get involved in her school's student government if there is one. She should make lots of friends of all types and ages and be someone who genuinely cares about and is interested in others. She should develop excellent manners and social skills. She should always try to be responsible and to think long-term.
posted by orange swan at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2012

Once she graduates high school, of course, ivy league or nothing. Ivy league law school is probably a good idea

For undergrad, a small, top-notch regional (like Oberlin, Williams) and then Ivy law or Stanford or Georgetown
posted by jgirl at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2012

I have a lot of thoughts, but the first is to make volunteering (and volunteer organization) her hobby, as well as running for things in her academic life.

Aside from the real-world experience, the other point to this is that once she is on Twitter/Facebook/any other broadcast social media, organizing/advertising her current hobbies and activities is strictly what she uses them for.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:18 AM on October 25, 2012

Starting at Georgetown, or maybe earlier, Bill Clinton supposedly created an index card for every single person he met.

Another college story: as part of the hazing process, George W. Bush's fraternity made pledges name every other pledge. None of them came close to remembering the 50 or so names except W, who remembered every one of them.

Point being, social intelligence and the ability to network is a big deal.
posted by Sock Ray Blue at 11:30 AM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

If we're talking about a teachable moment (rather than trying to tick all the resume boxes that are necessary but not sufficient for high office in the United States), she should find an issue in the community she cares about (getting a park renovated? having environmentally-friendly, water-saving plantings put in at city properties?), study the issue, build persuasive arguments, seek out allies, go speak to the city council about the issue, and attempt to get it done.

The practical experience of local government will help her learn a lot more about what's necessary for high office in a democracy; what kinds of things she'll need to know, what sorts of things she'll need to do, what skills will be good to have.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:41 AM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

dywypi: "Is she a natural-born citizen of the United States? You say she holds Canadian citizenship but you do not say where she was born or whether she is a dual citizen."

She is a natural-born US citizen, born in Seattle. She is a dual citizen, established based on her father being born in Canada (to American-born, US citizen parents who were working there at the time). My mother-in-law was born in Hawai'i, before it became a state ... I know, irrelevant, but funny.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2012

Read and read and read. Read biographies of previous presidents. Read about history (US and other nations). Study some philosophy. Join or start debate club.
posted by scratch at 11:47 AM on October 25, 2012

Take her with you when you vote.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 11:51 AM on October 25, 2012

yes, read! At her age I read a ton of novels but I hated nonfiction. Maybe this would be a spark that could get her started in books that make you think.

Also, talk at dinner about current events. Address her as madam presedent and ask her what she thinks should be done about X, Y, Z.
posted by aimedwander at 11:52 AM on October 25, 2012

In order to become POTUS, she'll need lower office experience, and she'll need to get it fast. She should start looking for opportunities to develop executive and administrative experience as soon as possible. Basically, every group she ever belongs to, she should try to find ways to improve that group through personal leadership -- NOT stepping on toes in a power grab, but ways that she, as an individual, can make the whole group experience run more smoothly. It would probably be wise for her to pledge a sorority in college, but choose thoughtfully.

She will need to learn to be quick with a smile and a handshake, to remember people easily and to fake it well when she doesn't remember them. She will need to learn how to be funny without being cutting or cloying. She will need to learn how to separate people from their money in a way that has them crying tears of joy as they write the checks, because an underfunded campaign gets you nowhere. Her memory will need to be fantastic, not just for names but for figures; being able to cross-reference budget line items in an extemporaneous speech is a valuable skill.

Sadly, unless things change a lot in the next 24 years, she will need to be conventionally attractive and slim. She will need to make sure that there is never a single compromising photograph of her taken anywhere; not on Halloween, not at a bachelorette party, not on a girls' weekend to Vegas, not anywhere. Male candidates can bounce back from that kind of thing, female candidates not so much.

Perhaps most importantly of all, though, she'll need to develop the ability to imbue her every interaction with anyone with a sense of importance -- with the sense that the interaction was important to her. Bill Clinton is the absolute master at this, even through a television camera he could give the impression that the person he was speaking to was changing his life. People like to feel important. I don't know how you teach this skill, but I've seen it in a lot of politicians, from big-time elected officials to local community organizers, and it's a big deal.
posted by KathrynT at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

You can get her a free "How To Become President" poster from Publications.USA.Gov.
posted by 1smartcookie at 12:20 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

She is a dual citizen

Hold on to her birth certificate. It may come in handy someday. ;)
posted by dgran at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Join the theatre group at your school. She will need to be able to project in front of a crowd. The skill set for being a stage actor is fairly similar to the skill set for being on the campaign trail. Getting some acting skills, learning to feel comfortable on stage, being able to make a speech, being able to project emotion (even when you do not feel that emotion inside). These are all useful - and can be learned in theatre class.
posted by Flood at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2012

struggles with math purely because she thinks it's boring.
If you tell us what kind of math is on her current curriculum, we may be able to recommend specific ways it can be applied to her quest.
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:43 PM on October 25, 2012

She will need to find an extremely supportive and non-gaffe/scandal-inclined spouse who would be willing to deal at least equally or more with raising children and would be flexible job-wise. (By this I mean, if she has a spouse and family, she will need a supportive one who is willing to sacrifice.)
posted by sallybrown at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Move to the south or mid-east US. More Presidents came from Virginia, then Ohio, than other States. Only one West-Coast-born person has been President so far, and I'll give you a hint: he was very sweaty when he debated JFK on television.

Attend an Ivy League School. Serve in the military.

And make sure she understands how powerless the President is.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:05 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you considered a math tutor for her? Deficiency in that area is crippling for many careers.
posted by Cranberry at 2:19 PM on October 25, 2012

I hope this isn't a non sequitur by dint of shoot-downiness, but I'm having extreme difficulty imagining a dual citizen of anywhere being elected US President in anything resembling the US we're familiar with.

Unless you were, like, forcibly citizenned by Soviets, single-handedly Ramboed your way out of a gulag at age nine, rafted Krushchev's skinned pelt across the Pacific, and tearfully collapsed on the Oregon shore, giving yourself over to the sweet and unitary redemption of American citizenship. But joking aside-- I do very much believe that first proposition I made.
posted by threeants at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2012

If she has to set her sights lower, Governor of Michigan might be a viable gig.
posted by threeants at 2:22 PM on October 25, 2012

She's 9? "Get good grades."
posted by rhizome at 2:31 PM on October 25, 2012

Help her be a good listener and a good conversationalist. Show her how to be both assertive AND aggressive and help her identify where to be one, the other, or both. Encourage an interest in domestic and foreign affairs, and show her how to develop her own thinking so she can articulate it in a logical, organized way. She'll need practice in public speaking, in debating, in logic, in strategy and she'll need to learn how to deal with being on stage 24/7. Help her learn how to laugh at herself. Show her how to take criticism in a pragmatic, productive way, and do what you can to help her develop a thick enough skin so that when the press and her opponents come to impugne her good character, she can let it roll off her back and get back to what matters. Help her develop strong role models (female first, male next). Encourage her to be an activist for the causes that spark her mind and her heart. Make sure she understands that money math is the most important math of all for someone who must be in charge of an entire economy.

Above all else, love her, and show her how she will always have people to support her no matter what, because if she decides this isn't the path for her, she will still have become an incredible person in her own right.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2012

Let's take a look at recent past US presidents.

George H.W. Bush: Yale University, Economics, B.A.
Bill Clinton: Georgetown University, Foreign Service, B.A. and Yale Law School, J.D.
George W. Bush: Yale University, History B.A. and Harvard Business School, M.B.A.
Barack Obama: Columbia University, political science BA 1983 and Harvard Law School, J.D.

Analysis: If possible attend Yale. Consider a second degree from Harvard. This will keep you busy until age 30.

Age first elected to public office
George H.W. Bush: 42, House of Representatives for Texas
Bill Clinton: 30, Arkansas Attorney General
George W. Bush: 48, Governor of Texas
Barack Obama: 35, Illinois state senator

Analysis: If running as a republican, consider having a business career then going for a higher public office. If you're a democrat start with a smaller office but do it earlier.

Not getting elected
George H.W. Bush: Failed senate run, 1970
Bill Clinton: Failed run for House of Representatives, 1974
George W. Bush: Failed run for House of Representatives, 1978

Analysis: Anticipate at least one early career election loss, it doesn't mean you won't become president. Especially if it happens in the 1970s.

Age at assuming the presidency
George H.W. Bush: 65
Bill Clinton: 47
George W. Bush: 55
Barack Obama: 48

Your daughter's age at various elections, assuming all presidents serve two terms:
2040: 36
2048: 44
2056: 52

Analysis: If the pattern of two term presidents then a change in parties persists, 2048 will be Republican and 2056 will be Democrat. Aim for either. This isn't a longstanding pattern; 2052 (aged 48) is also an option - and prime Democrat running age!

Mentions of volunteering on Wikipedia page
George H.W. Bush: No mentions.
Bill Clinton: No mentions.
George W. Bush: Met some volunteers.
Barack Obama: Directed some volunteers.

Analysis: If you're going to volunteer, do it because you want to, not because it'll make you the president.

Factors likely to be unlike previous elections
Elections vary a lot; griphus is right that none of the old people who currently make up America's political class grew up in an age of Facebook where everyone has a camera phone. This might make us less puritanical about candidates youthful indiscretions, or with more evidence society might be more vindictive.

There are also changes that sneak up on us; SuperPACs, for example, came out of nowhere, but may change fundraising a lot. There will certainly be other big changes in the political landscape before 2056, but we're powerless to predict what they will be :)
posted by Mike1024 at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2012 [9 favorites]

In a few years, if she's still interested in politics, get her started watching The West Wing (estimated age rating here).
posted by limeonaire at 4:14 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love this so much - things I would never think of, and a whole lot of good life advice.

Right now, I think she is too much of an introvert (as pointed out by several psychologist/psychiatrist friends after personal observation and just knowing her) to actually pursue a political path, much less a path to the Presidency. And I'd probably never push any of my kids in that direction, but if it were what they wanted, I'd certainly support them. I could have asked this about her brothers, too, though I suspect must of the advice would be the same, other than the obvious.

Keep it coming, please!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:19 PM on October 25, 2012

If you're in DC or might plan a trip here in the summer, the Smithsonian usually runs a "President for a Week" camp. My daughter had a great time at the camp years ago where she got to create campaign materials and go on field trips around the city.

I think middle school is about the time when students can run for student government office, so your daughter could try that out. Also, some student organizations have officer positions. My daughter's been involved with Science Olympiad at her school for years and is now an officer in the organization, which she told me has helped her a lot with speaking in front of groups. There's also Toastmasters organizations that help develop public speaking skills.
posted by hoppytoad at 5:41 PM on October 25, 2012

Of course, if you visit DC you can also go see bits and pieces of the government at work: see the supreme court if it's in session, sit in on a senate hearing, etc.

And your local and state governments also have tons of hearings and meetings that are open to the public. Even if the subject is boring, it may be worth slipping into the back one for a few minutes just to see that it's a real process, not just something you hear about in textbooks or in the news.

Or maybe something relevant to her immediate surroundings would make it more interesting. (E.g., an argument about what to do with a parcel of land in your neighborhood.)

Knowing how that stuff works (or, at this point, just understanding that it's there and that she *could* learn how it works) will be useful to her regardless of profession.
posted by bfields at 6:53 PM on October 25, 2012

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 7:00 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

"I'm having extreme difficulty imagining a dual citizen of anywhere being elected US President in anything resembling the US we're familiar with."

Actually, claims Obama was a dual citizen of the US and Kenya at her age. This is apparently still fascinating to the birthers. And there was some flap about Bachmann's supposed Swiss citizenship during the primaries.

(As far as I can tell it's all irrelevant--citizenship doesn't necessarily require any initiative on your part, and random countries can't disqualify presidential candidates just by claiming them as citizens.)
posted by bfields at 7:07 PM on October 25, 2012

BlueJae's comment about Obama reminds us that not all presidents seem to be creatures of destiny from a very young age. While the idea that Obama was some kind of wayward youth really isn't true, it is true that nobody thought of him as Somebody Who Could Be President Someday until he was president of the Harvard Law Review. By then, he was nearly 30.

I think people tend to judge "what you need to do to be president" against Bill Clinton, who was basically campaigning in the womb. But Obama's an introvert, Bush II was an alcoholic, Reagan was a C-list actor, nobody really liked Nixon, Truman was considered a political nobody until FDR made him VP. Not every President takes the same path.

However, they do find ways to work around their flaws. Sometimes these things are positive - Obama's rhetorical skills make up for his introverted tendencies. Sometimes they're not - Nixon sated his paranoia by taping everyone. The takeaway from this, I think, is that if she does have some traits that could be a hindrance for a POTUS (and they all do, the job basically requires a level of perfection that nobody can attain), she needs to find ways to minimize and/or work around them.

Another thing that's been overstated, I think, is the importance of potential "scandals," like Facebook photos. Youthful drug use is an instructive example with this - in 1992, Bill Clinton had to make up some transparent BS about not inhaling pot. By 2000, Bush admitted he had tried coke, and it was a story, but not a big one. By 2008, we had a guy running who openly discussed smoking pot in his memoir and it was a total non-issue. I think it is quite possible - likely even - that by 2056 we'll have been dealing with presidential candidates with youthful drunken Facebook photos or somewhat skimpy Halloween costumes for awhile, and it won't be much of a problem.

That said, she should absolutely err on the side of caution with stuff that could come back to haunt her, and she should be careful not to go any further than her peers. A lot of people have photos of themselves on Facebook drunkenly making dumb faces. But something that's, say, racially charged or sexually explicit could still be a problem.

With that essay done (apologies for that, I just think this is an interesting question), here's what I think is really needed:

1) She needs to get good grades. Every President in recent history has gone to a top-tier college, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. She should probably also get a graduate degree, preferably in law or business.

2) She needs to develop excellent social and networking skills (which isn't quite the same thing is a being extroverted, by the way, though it's easier for extroverts).

3) She needs to learn about the political process, political issues, and current events, and take an active interest in all three.

4) She needs to hone a strong sense of political timing, and be very, very lucky. We've had 44 Presidents. How many people have tried to run and gotten nowhere? How many people have wanted to run but never got into a position to seriously try? Getting elected to office, especially high office, is dependent on a lot of factors, and not all of them are directly within the candidate's control.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:54 PM on October 25, 2012

posted by bukvich at 7:56 PM on October 25, 2012

I think the #1 thing (along with being conventionally thin and attractive, having a SAH husband who puts his career second, being charismatic, running for offices, Ivy League, law degree stuff. Though military is less of a requirement if she's female, so maybe not that) is that she needs to be AS GOOD AS GOLD. She needs to be so good that a halo is glowing over her head. She can't ever try drugs*, she needs to be really careful to never drink more than a glass or two of alcohol, she needs to never, ever rebel or misbehave or throw caution slightly to the wind for a night, or get caught watching porn on the hotel channel, or ANYTHING. I won't repeat what everyone else said about photos/Facebook, you know that one. Not to mention that she needs to behave with absolute integrity and honesty and never do anything crooked and then try to cover it up, or cheat on the husband, etc. Hell, she probably shouldn't get a parking or speeding ticket. She needs to settle down quickly with a guy, preferably during college or at the latest, law school. Don't date around much or practice serial monogamy for years on end. She'll need to get married before 30 because god forbid she be single as a candidate past that age.

I do wonder if it is literally possible for anyone to get through their 20's without having done at least one thing that makes them socially ineligible (or at least with a huge scandal to hide), though. Hell, I'm 99% well behaved and angelic in life and almost, ALMOST qualify for the shit I said here.... but even I've been a "bad" enough girl in college to dynamite a possible political career.** If she sticks with this president thing, she needs to never have a fuckup or try something weird in public or anything like that.

*yes, the current president has, but he's a guy and guys get away with more than women.
** My college ex was in student politics and we used to debate how much of a career he could have in politics when he'd been quite the Berkeley wild child and said he'd be open about that on the campaign trail.
Hah, you thought I'd say what I did bad here, didn't you? Fakeout! :)

posted by jenfullmoon at 8:17 PM on October 25, 2012

She needs charisma.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:38 PM on October 25, 2012

It might be an interesting project for her to write some letters to your own elected officials, both on the local level and the national level, where she asks them for advice on what they would recommend for her to pursue in order to become President. If nothing else, you can assemble a terrific scrapbook of responses together. But you may be surprised with invitations to lunch, or tours of the state house, or something else interesting if her letter catches a staffer's eye. And even if there isn't any really practical/tactical advice in those responses, it gives her a foot in the door for later contacts with those offices/staff members if and when she's ready to explore internships or other next steps.
posted by judith at 9:07 PM on October 25, 2012

jenfullmoon: Being well behaved is generally good advice - but some people said a lot of Bush's appeal was that he seemed like the kind of guy you could have a beer with; and some people see Obama as an aloof intellectual, a goody two-shoes. What she needs is 'rebellion lite', rebellion that conforms to specific socially acceptable archetypes. She needs to be arrested in college for stealing a traffic cone on her way home from a party.

Also, on the campaign trail she needs to be able to tell stories that the average person will empathize with. You know, stories about camping and being taught to hunt by her father. Perhaps following some of the country's major sports. Her parents need to be honest and hardworking because they believe in the American Dream.

Her politics will need to be partisan enough that she'll be selected by the party faithful, but centrist enough to appeal to floating voters. She'll want to look at the other party's platform and identify a few areas where she can take a centrist stance. For example, if running as a democrat you might support maintaining the status quo on gun control. Having a consistent message on this sort of thing can only help later on.
posted by Mike1024 at 6:56 AM on October 26, 2012

When I saw your question yesterday, I started to answer, stopped to think about it, and now I'm back. I think your daughter should do what Christina-Taylor Green had started to do. Honor her memory, and carry on her journey.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:48 PM on October 26, 2012

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