What if you had a chance to build a president rather than elect one?
High school students had this very opportunity when they took part in CommDay at St. Bonaventure University on Oct. 18.
As part of a CommDay workshop, students answered a series of questions about the type of president they would prefer.
The students favored a female president from Middle America who is married and between the ages of 40 and 49. They also preferred a president who is a career politician rather than someone from the private sector.
Of all the candidates in the race, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the closest match for the students’ preferences. She checks all the boxes except for age. Klobuchar is 59.
About 20 high school students — and two of their teachers — took part in the exercise, which was part of “The Road to the White House Travels Through St. Bonaventure,” a workshop presented by Dr. Richard A. Lee, an associate professor in the Jandoli School of Communication who serves as executive director of the Jandoli Institute.
Participants were asked a series of questions about their preferences for a president and submitted responses anonymously, along with written explanations for their choices.
Although most participants selected the 40-49 age range, one chose the 50-59 range, explaining that an older president would bring more experience to the job.
On the other hand, one student wanted the youngest president possible, someone between 35 and 39.
“An older president doesn’t care as much about real problems our generation will have to deal with,” the student wrote.
On the gender question, the group expressed a desire for a change in the status quo.
“I want to see if there would be a big difference in how things are ruled,” one student wrote. “We have always had male presidents. Maybe a female will bring in fresh ideas.”
Participants favored a career politician for president because of the experience he or she is likely to bring to the job.
“A career politician would be more accustomed to how a government should be run and know what does and doesn’t work and what needs to be done prior to taking office,” a student explained.
“The private sector creates businessmen, not politicians,” another student added.
The group felt Middle America deserves more attention than the two coasts.
“Middle America seems to be underrepresented,” one wrote. “A president from Middle America could bring awareness to problems that fail to be noticed.”
Reasons for having a married president varied. One student said a married couple makes for better optics. Another said a spouse’s support would help presidents deal with the stress of the job.
“They wouldn’t feel alone when they believe all of America hates them,” the student explained.
The participants also were asked what they would like the president to do on his or her first day in office. Most wanted the president to take immediate steps to address an issue such as gun violence, climate change or the fate of the Electoral College.
But two had a much simpler priority; they just wanted the new president to learn the names of staff members.
As one student explained, “If he can take time to learn about his staff, it shows he cares about the little people, not just those who will help him keep power.”