Friday, September 12, 2008

I Don't Want A President I Can Relate To

Perhaps the biggest attribute that supporters of the Popular Right side of the presidential spectrum of candidates (of which there are at least a couple dozen) cite in their attraction to the VP nominee is that they can relate to her. She's someone like them. Well, that's just great. One of the oft-spouted comments of support that people cite in support of the current chief executive is that he is someone they can relate to. People seem to love it when their candidate/leader is "just like them" (or at least, their chosen one appears to be). And, of course, the same folks criticize the opposition for not being someone they can relate to, for being an "elitist." As if having the ability to deliver an adequate speech in Standard English makes one an "elitist." What has happened to this country?

How many of our first thirty presidents were folks that people could relate to? Well, judging from history, maybe two, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. Jackson, the first "populist" president (in name only), oversaw the brief period in US history when we were debt-free. He also signed the Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of New Echota, which resulted in the deaths of 4000 Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears. Lincoln, arguably the greatest US President, wasn't really a "regular guy," even if he chopped a few logs in Kentucky. Regular guys don't have the fortitude of Abe Lincoln, the eloquence, the astute understanding of what historical moments require. Lincoln was clearly extraordinary.

If we look at the other presidents, the twenty-eight "elitists" between Washington and Coolidge, as well as the two after Coolidge, Hoover and Roosevelt, we find several presidents who were remarkable individuals and the right men for the right time. George Washington, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt (don't even try that "regular guy" stuff with Teddy--it doesn't wash), and FDR. All of these men would be considered "elitist" today (except maybe Teddy). But, that is just what a president ought to be.

When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I want to rest easy knowing that my country is being lead by the best and brightest possible person. I don't want a president I would feel comfortable having a beer with. I don't want a president I would invite over for a backyard bar-b-q. I don't want a president (or vice-president) I could go skeet shooting with. I don't want a president I make fun of when he/she talks. I don't want to see someone who reminds me of me when I watch the State of the Union address. I don't want a president I can relate to.

I want a president intelligent and empathic enough to relate to me. I want a president smarter than I. I want a president stronger than I. I want a president more astute, communicative, and virtuous than I. I want a president I can be proud of. I want an elitist.


Jami said...

So....does it take one to know one? I miss you Tony!

La Fashionista said...

I think that the way "elitist" is being misused is key. Leadership and elitism are not the same thing and, in fact, are very different.

In certain ways, I *do* want a president who can relate to aspects of my life. Not what I choose to do in my free time and the like. But someone who understands what it's like to go to the grocery store, pay bills, struggle with managing money (or lack thereof), and so on. I think it's ridiculous - and yet somehow always an effective strategy - that the Republicans, who constantly screw over those who are oppressed and/or in need of support and then profit and further elevate themselves, accuse the Democrats of elitism. Many of the very people in my life who are struggling and most hurt by the policies and decisions made by the Republicans will vote for McCain/Palin.

There's a lot more I could say, but it is late and I am sleepyheads.


La Fashionista said...

This about captures it:

A hero I can relate to

But of course we wouldn't go skeet shooting together. For many reasons. One of which is that he is out of my league.


comoprozac said...

True dat.