A First for a President: Putting Politics Second

For more than fifty years, we have noted history making Presidential elections surrounding the "first" of certain demographic categories.

In 1960, America elected the first Catholic President in John F. Kennedy; in 1980 we elected the first divorced (as well as the oldest) President in Ronald Reagan; and in 2008 we elected the first African-American president.

And today, as we approach the 2016 election, we are being told we have either the opportunity to elect the first woman President, or the first Latino President.

While all of these "firsts" were groundbreaking and have shown in some ways we have grown as a country and evolved in our politics, I would like to suggest that we might want to try for a different kind of first (maybe not a first for the entirety of our country's history, but a first for a least a generation). Instead of focusing on firsts as defined by demographics, how about a first as defined by certain values.

I would like us to elect the first President in more than a generation who puts country over party. A man or woman who doesn't calculate the political ramifications of their decisions, but looks to today and the future and makes those decisions not from a partisan perspective but from a broad country perspective.

As a former Democrat who went to work for then-Governor George W. Bush, I was hoping in his presidency that this would be the case. I thought we would try to bring the country together and get past the political divide, which is so dysfunctional for our country. This didn't happen and we came away even more polarized, and Americans losing even more trust in our political leadership. This is the major reason that I broke with President Bush publicly and now am a diehard Independent.

In 2008, like many other Americans, I voted for Barack Obama with the hope he would stay true to his message and unify our country, and place the interests of the United States over the interests of his political party. This didn't happen, and not only me, but millions of Americans have come away even more disappointed and disillusioned by the leadership in Washington, DC.

So what would electing the first President in more than a generation who put party second, and country first look like in action.

It would mean the President didn't run around the country holding fundraisers for his political party, other party committees, and partisan political candidates who happen to be in the same party as him or her. It would mean he or she would fill their administration with the best and the brightest who had all Americans interest at heart regardless of their party affiliation. Showing you are leading this way isn't by nominating one or two symbolic people, but by establishing a culture in the White House where partisan considerations are frowned upon, and not rewarded.

It would mean a President who spent real time both at the Capitol and Camp David building relationships with the opposite political party. Not just in moments of needing votes, but from day one until the last day he or she leaves the White House. There is an office for the President in the Capitol, use it regularly for meetings. Go there, hang out, and show your words of unity are followed up with actions. Don't just sit passively in the hallowed halls of the White House waiting for folks to come see you.

A first President who put country over party would also be open and transparent in their dealings with the public and the media. We wouldn't see "hide the ball" behavior and obstructionism whenever important questions are asked. A President who puts country first would establish a culture in DC where the truth is an admirable pursuit, not a tactic used to bash their political enemies.

Country over party would mean the "ends justifying the means" game would not be acceptable behavior, and that this new President would recognize the means of governing is what is broken. If we want good policy and ends, we must pursue means that have integrity and a higher broader purpose.

Partisans on both sides like to say President Bush and President Obama would have done this, but for the other side. They say that they wanted to put country first, but the other side played partisan games, so they had to play the same game if they were going to be successful. I say a new President has to be strong enough to say enough is enough, and that the country doesn't win by playing this game.

Yes, I believe it is time in America, not for another first in demographics, but a first in an entirely new leadership dynamic. A leadership that lays the jersey of Democrat or Republican on the sidelines, and takes the field to lead the whole American team in a new way and to a new place. That is who I am going to be looking for as the 2016 race unfolds.

There you have it.

Matthew Dowd, founder of ListenTo.Us, is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.