Obviously, presidential candidates have super egos or they would not be willing to work so hard in traversing the country in the belief that they are the best suited to govern the country. But it is always intriguing that while most such candidates are middle-aged or older, they seem to thrive on the intensive activity of a presidential campaign.
Although 63 years old, George Bush campaigned without a break for 74 straight days from the day after Christmas through Super Tuesday. Michael Dukakis not only jets all over the country on a day-to-day basis, but whenever he comes home to Boston, he heads straight to the State House where he resumes the governing of Massachusetts. And so far neither candidate has lost his voice or even seemed to have contracted so much as a cold.In the early stages of presidential primaries, those candidates who just can't stand the pace slack off and decide that it is not worth it. Even some candidates for state office have little stomach for the long hours. Former Gov. Rueben Askew of Florida, considered a good bet to be elected to the U.S. Senate this year, suddenly gave up his campaign, obviously unwilling to expend the incredible energy necessary to be elected. It is only the candidate who has the deep desire who can keep up with the fast pace, the long hours, the lack of sleep, the irregular meals and the unfamiliar food.
A smart presidential candidate will make time in his schedule for some exercise to relieve stress and protect his body. George Bush pedals three to four miles on a stationary bike while watching TV and jogs when he can. Mike Dukakis race walks five days a week with a 4-pound weight in each hand. Before he dropped out, Albert Gore continued to jog a half hour each day, even though such an activity was listed on his schedule as a "photo opportunity." Even Jesse Jackson, the candidate who seems to allow himself the least exercise, carries a portable exercise machine with him, but rarely uses it.
But in spite of the exercise they may get, these men are obviously inspired by something much more simple: They are having fun! They obviously like what
they are doing and they are energized by the possibility that they will actually be elected. Dukakis, who thought his candidacy was a long shot at first, seemed to begin his campaign rather tentatively, characterizing it as a marathon. But as he began to pile up more and more convincing victories, he became more and more excited. In spite of jet lag, he spoke with greater authority and conviction and put more and more energy into his work.
Physicians have maintained that hard work in itself is not stressful. A person who is doing what he would like to be doing and receiving satisfaction or success in the process may actually be invigorated by the long hours. It is someone who seems burdened by seemingly insurmountable problems that will usually feel the debilitating effects of stress. Naturally, a candidate for president may reach a point after election when burdens such as those begin to be felt, but a winning campaign puts off that point of reckoning.
Besides, people in the public eye tend to react positively to the excitement of being written about and watched by the press and the public. In spite of long hours, these people do not have to do many of the things that cause stress in the every day life of the average person. They do not have to park a car in a large city, stand in line for tickets, or endure rush hour traffic on the way home from work. When they feel the sense of adoration, they rise to the occasion and give a good speech, express their emotions and become exhilarated in the process. In other words, they thrive in the limelight and they know that they are regarded by society as "the exceptional person."
Of course, they have periods of discouragement, too, as when a published poll suggests that they are losing support and may lose the national election. Or a story is published that is critical of their positions or their record in public office.
So called "negative campaigning" resulting from the opposition candidate dredging up unflattering accounts of the candidate's past can cause significant anger. But given the ongoing euphoria of a presidential campaign, even that too shall pass. So the next time you are tempted to feel sorry for one of the candidates for his long hours and hard work, remember that he is doing it because he has an insatiable desire to be our leader. And he LOVES it.