It is important to me that we have a leader to whom we can look up, of whom we respect, and of whom the world respects. I do not believe we have that in President Bush. I believe he and Dick Cheney have led this country in a downward spiral in everything from civil rights to unnecessary wars to economic downturns to an all-pervasive culture of fear that permeates all Americans' lives, regardless of our geographic location. I am truly embarrassed to be an American at this time. I am embarrassed that we do not demand excellence out of our leaders, that they are the laughing stock and punchlines to a great many people both in America and the rest of the world, that books and books have been written about what a joke the current president is. He has a disapproval rating that hovers around 70%, something that has been increasing steadily the past several months. We are a country of the world's best universities, a great history of political philosophy, a place of great economic achievement, a place with the largest immigration rates in the world, and we have produced a leader of true mediocrity. Our country has become ambivalent to the importance of electing a leader- and I find it highly embarrassing that more people vote for American Idol than in presidential elections (and that President Bush and the first lady were actually on the show last year).
For over 3,000 years democratic states have failed to demand excellence in leaders. This is no new idea- it is a common theme that runs throughout Plato's Republic (and was recently refitted into an article in Newsweek,
"Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated."
Sam Harris, Newsweek, September 2008
We need a leader we can look up to, one who is smart, and not afraid of intelligence. A person who can tell the American people what they need to hear, not some garbage cheap shot about soccer and hockey moms and gosh darnit, i just don't know. We need a leader who inspires great things out of his/her office, and inspires pride and hope out of Americans. I want a president who I respect, can look up to as a moral compass (regardless of religious ideology), give me hope about the true state of our union, be a vision of progress in all aspects of development, a person who is respected on the world scene. I don't know if either McCain or Obama embody all of those qualities, but I do not think McCain has his priorities on the good of all Americans. While he is heads better than Bush, I can no longer trust his judgment after nominating Sarah Palin as his VP (another discussion entirely). And I want you to recall this: I met John McCain a few years ago in a starbucks in NYC, and when I told you, you said, "Tell him to do more for Israel!" He does not inspire greatness, in my opinion. I think he makes cheap shots at Obama, speaks half-truths, has misplaced agendas, and after his recent choice as a running mate, lacks good judgment. Certainly this can apply to Obama as well, and any liberal or conservative news source will say what is best for their candidate. But we need to demand a level of excellence, achievement and greatness out of our leaders. We do, or else our country will continue to fall downward into a pit of political apathy. McCain inspires nothing out of Americans. Obama inspires some degree of hope and positive change in the future.
De gustibus nom disbutandum est.