Monday, September 24, 2007

A Note on Politicians

The fallout from 2000 and 2004 has lasted a long time for me: I'm still burned out on politics. The relatively good year in 2006 didn't help it, and I'm just plain disgusted with most politicians. I hate their extreme weaknesses (bribery, prostitutes, pedophilia, inability to be honest and principled, etc.). It's all an image game, with people who want to be politicians playing to their audiences, saying what they think people want to hear, stating their "opinions" based on polling data.

That said, I do think we treat them unfairly. Politicians, like other celebrities, are asked to live their lives almost entirely under public scrutiny. Flashbulbs in their faces, reporters grilling their families and friends, no real escape from being on display.

Clearly, it takes an extraordinary sort of person to be willing and able to live this way. But then we judge these people by normal standards.

There's no excuse for breaking the law, your marriage vows, and standards of basic decency as many politicians seem prone to do.

However, we can't elect a guy who's charismatic and open in front of the cameras, then later accuse him of being addicted to seeking out that limelight.

And, dare I say it?

We can't elect somebody because he seems like a good ole boy we'd like to have a beer with, then complain that he doesn't have a sophisticated grasp of foreign policy.

It's been written before that we look for something different in candidates than we require of elected officials. That's certainly true, and so often we vote based on what we think we want. What we need to do is to be more realistic about what we're looking for in a president. Do we need to know all the details of his or her private life, or is it enough that she or he is a law-abiding citizen?

And certainly we need to know how our potential leaders really feel about the issues of the day - and whether their inconsistencies are proof of continued growth and understanding, or are rather a shameless chasing after votes. But we should definitely look beyond those willing to give pat answers to complicated questions, calling soundbites "leadership."


Anny Monroe said...

Thank you for explaining what I have been feeling so succinctly!

Sarahlynn said...

That's got to be even more frustrating for you, living where you do!