I believe this ^ comes from here
If you can’t relate to your leader, then your leader can’t relate to you. If your leader can’t relate to you he doesn’t know how his or her decisions will effect you. If he or she doesn’t know how decisions will relate to you, then it’s only a matter of time until you become frustrated with that leader. This leads to public dissatisfaction, low morale, and a loss of faith in one’s community.
I understand the marketing appeal of a President with little to no blemishes on the record. A person who is “all about the business” and “all work, no play.” You’re assured that this person knows when he or she should be responsible (always) and when to say the right thing (always). But that makes for a really, really dull person. I know I’m not alone in thinking that a person who is considered The Most Powerful Person in the World should not also be The Most Dull.
It’s frustrating when you go see a doctor and you try to explain your various ailments and how they came about, then the doctor just says “uh huh,” takes note, then give you a band aid or a pill. It’s always much more helpful if you can engage in a dialogue, try to relate, then figure out what solutions would work for you as an individual. It leads to better patient-doctor relations, individually tailored solutions, and better overall health.
Of course this is rare – understandably doctors are busy people (this is getting better though… standby). So are leaders, any leaders – especially the. He or she simply doesn’t have the time to sit down with every individual and ask “How do you run your life, and how can this administration make it easier?” That’s not the point though. The average American citizen should feel like he or she can.
Personally, if I had the chance to sit down with President Obama, I wouldn’t know what to say. Fantasy me, inside my monkey-infested brain, has plenty to say, plenty of topics to bring up and discuss. Real-life me though would be so intimidated – what qualifies me to speak to this man? He’s not even a man, he’s the freakin’ President of the United States of America.That’s crazy. He’s this unreachable entity that I’m suppose to respect and admire, but why? Because he’s attained the World’s Best Desk Job? Unless I have aspirations of a seat on the House of Representatives, or the Senate, any job in politics really (I don’t), what can I relate to?
Admittedly, he’s much more accessible than presidents have been in the past. Here are some cool things:
- Born in Hawaii (…jealous)
- His mom is of European decent, and his father is from Kenya (in Hawaiian a person of multicultural heritage is called a Hapa). This means that, like most Americans, he’s a mix.
- He drank and did drugs in high school (again, like most Americans), but then, and here’ the difference, he actually talked about it.
- First black president – perhaps his biggest legacy (and easily the coolest)
- He and I have the same alma mater (Harvard)
- He can actually speak well publicly
- He’s in shape enough to go play some basketball with the troops
- His money didn’t come from “old money,” it came from book sales
- He’s struggled, quite a few times, to quit smoking (he’s apparently been successful recently)
- He’s clearly not afraid of change
Like I said, he has a lot more in common with the “average American” than the last president (boo, hiss). But the way in which his campaign was run, the way most – if not all – political campaigns are run, is what gets to me. And this isn’t about his political stance. I’m not here (at least in this post) to debate that. This is about how our leaders are presented to us, and how that effects our opinions, regardless of how that person feels about foreign policy or green living.
He’s clearly a cool guy – definitely not dull. Still though, throughout his campaign I was physically angered by the people around me who instantly got on board the Obama train. Most of the younger generation of voters I was in contact with did not vote based on his Ivy League credentials; based on his Senatorial experience; based on his political stance.
Let me be clear – I’m not blaming Barack Obama the man for this. He’s a political scientist, a lawyer, not a marketing executive.
Around me were two sides: for Obama, and against Palin. I spend my time going between the liberal world of Cambridge, MA, and the “home of the Free-Staters” New Hampshire. In Cambridge, of course, my peers were very much into the message of “Hope,” saying that “it’s time for a black president,” but never really telling me how Obama was offering them, as individuals, “Hope” and why it was “time.” In New Hampshire, my peers were livid at the prospect of having a Democrat in office, while still angry at the previous administration, and frustrated at the choice of the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Republican Party.
Whether it was “time” or not (I think that it was), and regardless of my personal views as a registered voter, I was upset that my peers had chosen to vote for someone based on a tagline and a time frame. I begged, pleaded with them – tell me why you’re voting for him. At least give me a reason you aren’t voting for McCain that isn’t “because of Palin.” There were a small smattering of people who actually had a voice, but the majority were basing their vote off of what I felt to be superficial aspects of a campaign. They were letting the marketing department get to them, but they didn’t look in through the shiny windows to attempt to see what was inside.
On the other side, I was part of the “I’ll be dammed if Palin gets in office” brigade. But all of these people were assuming that McCain would die in office. Yes, he’s significantly older than Obama; yes, he seems to be in a fragile state of health. However, he has the kind of background that make most people look like fairies. When you think about what was important to the public during the elections in a time before TV, many presidential candidates had a history of military, naval, etc service and accomplishment. I knew I wasn’t the only person who thought McCain’s history as a naval pilot and POW was admirable, heroic even. The problem was that no one around me was mentioning it. Even as a qualifier for his poor health! I mean geez, forgive the guy. If you were tortured in Vietnam for an extended period you’d probably be a little shaky too. And, like Obama, clearly not a dull guy.
It seems I was being swayed by an admirable history instead of political views. That’s true. That’s more than a fair statement. The difference? I knew that. But I also know what my values are, and what I look for in a person, in a leader. To me they’re both admirable men. Which one would I have a beer with though? Which one represents me as an individual citizen? That’s no longer a question of relevance, seeing as how it’s 2011 and not 2008. In addition, I was confused, I was angry. In 2008 I was 20 years old. My first vote in a presidential campaign, a milestone. So what did I do when voting day came? I abstained. I committed a mortal sin as an American.
But I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry that I didn’t vote, because I didn’t know who I wanted to vote for- who I should have voted for. To me (at least at the time) it would have made it more of a crime to have voted based on eeny meeny miney mo, or based on a tagline, or based on a hatred of a vice presidential candidate. I didn’t want to be a voter that wasn’t passionate about Candidate “Insert Name Here.”
That leaves me here, wondering, wishing. I want to know why we as Americans have to be so superficial when making such important decisions as who to vote for. I want to know why we put more thought into our coffee order than our President.
See Part Two to explore.
P.S. Sorry if that’s an unsatisfying ending. Maybe you can try to give me some answers?
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