Listen up, American newborns. I realize your middle ears are still teeming with fluid and you're only capable of responding to high-pitched voices, but in just 35 short years, you'll be eligible to run for our nation's highest office. If that's something you (or your overachieving parents) desire, it's best to begin laying the groundwork now. Never mind that you can't clearly communicate any ideas. That hasn't stopped Carly Fiorina.
Please keep this handy, five-point checklist in your bassinet. As you grow, refer to it often. Check off the items you have accomplished. By the time you are of legal presidential age, you will have avoided the pitfalls that continue to bedevil the current crop of candidates. Are you paying attention? Wait, I'm over here. Fix your milky gaze my way as I recite the list.
1. Be an only child. If you are your parents' initial offspring, the first words out of your mouth should be, "Mom, Dad, stop now!" You don't want to be blamed for your sibling's misdeeds while you're on the campaign trail. Jeb Bush hadn't even officially declared he was running for office when he was confronted by University of Nevada student Ivy Ziedrich who accused Jeb's brother George of creating ISIS. OK, maybe your brother or sister won't precede you as president but we Americans are becoming pickier when we examine our candidate's genealogy. Even a traffic ticket or failed business venture by a family member might be enough to convince us you are not worthy of leading the country. If you already have siblings, consider distancing yourself from them and changing your last name.
2. Be home schooled. You do not, repeat NOT, want any contact with students or teachers in your formative years. Your mom or dad will assign, grade and then immediately destroy all schoolwork, lest it fall in to the wrong hands. What will happen if your first grade art teacher produces your crude drawing of a bird with only one wing? That's enough to make a left-leaning website run a piece claiming you are not a friend of environmentalists. Or that you'd gladly support offshore drilling in protected areas. Have you no respect for our nation's wildlife? And what if your gym instructor tells CNN (assuming it still exists in the mid-21st century) how you, a boy, only chose other boys for your schoolyard kickball team? What does that say about your views on workplace equality?
3. Tell your parents you do not want an allowance. Yes, doing household chores for free might seem unfair, but unless you can prove the money you earn was, at no time, touched by foreign dignitaries or business owners, it's best if you grow up lacking in monetary resources. Sure you'll need millions, maybe even billions, to mount a successful campaign. You'll find it somewhere. Just don't refer to any money you raise as a "foundation." Also, avoid contact with George Stephanopoulos.
4. Try and figure out how it will be possible to run for president while having no opinions on the following issues: abortion, gun control, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, free trade, homeland security, subsidized healthcare, immigration, civil rights, the minimum wage, and police body-cameras. Wait until you're in the White House to announce where you stand. Doing so before claiming victory will result in you being labeled "unelectable" by left- or right-wing pundits who have somehow managed to forge careers by disagreeing with everything.
5. Don't have friends. It will make your only child upbringing even lonelier, but what if one of the guests at the party celebrating your 6th birthday grows up to be a crooked real estate developer? The owner of a factory that employs child labor? A professional hacker? A spouse-abusing athlete? Defending yourself by saying, "I was only 6! How was I supposed to know?" will not satisfy those who question your character issues.
That's all for now. Now go drink some milk, and make sure it's not from a cow raised on artificial growth hormones. You don't want to incur the wrath of the Animal Legal Defense Fund before you are a full day old.
2015 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
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