Friday, September 12, 2008

something i don't understand

i've not been too political here, although i have strong opinions about politics. i strangely haven't felt the need to share them too much. but, on the plane yesterday, i was reading the IHT and Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Roger Cohen and Garrison Keillor were all talking about the election. of course, it's their job to do so and not so much mine, my editorials run a bit more to the use of simulators and computers in general in the training of seafarers. however, there's something that i just don't understand...

it's something i've been thinking about for awhile, but especially keillor's piece got me thinking about it again...what is it about this anti-intellectual argument that works for the republicans? why does it work at all? what on earth is GOOD about being anti-intellectual? the only thing that comes to mind is that it's easy. it's easier to tout such beliefs and faux arguments than it is to actually educate yourself and make real ones.

further, why does this "average person" argument that the mccain people are making about palin seem to be resonating with so many people? i don't know about you, but i don't want my president or vice president to be an average person. i want them to be great, extraordinary even! i want them to be smarter and more experienced, more worldly and with a better network of really bright advisors than anyone else on the planet. it's a really big responsibility running the united states, it takes more than an average, ordinary person to do the job.

we've seen what the boundless mediocrity of an average guy could do with the place over the past 8 years. i count myself as very fortunate to have lived outside of the country that whole time. the country is mired in two unwinnable wars, it seems that the spreading of democracy to places that have no significant educated middle class isn't really working out all that well, the divide has grown ever greater between rich and poor, gas prices have quadrupled, food prices are rising, the dollar is worth about as much as the old italian lira, the economy is in the toilet, the deficit is out of control and a new cold war is knocking on the door because russia awoke while bush was occupied elsewhere. frankly, we don't need another average guy or girl in the white house, we need someone better. someone great even. is it too much to ask that it be someone with some functioning brain cells? dare i say someone a bit more intellectual, maybe? not someone who was miss congeniality in the miss alaska pageant and believes that jesus hung out with the dinosaurs and who firmly believes in sexual abstinence for teenagers instead of sex education, but can't manage to convince her own daughter of that argument. those just aren't the qualities i'd like to see in the white house.

and we will see her in the white house because john mccain is like 600 years old, has had cancer not once but THREE times and is never going to live out a full term in office. that's a pretty stressful job and it won't be good long term for a guy who is 73 years old by the time he takes office.

i wanted to see a woman president, but i can tell you that this right wing, moose hunting, hockey stick wielding, trailer trash wench from alaska was not what i had in mind.

and yes, i chose that language on purpose, lest i became too intellectual in my arguments.


Tara said...

I am on board with you. I am shocked and appalled by the outpouring of love for Palin. My friend and I at work talk about this all the time. I don't want someone in office, who could be me, or could be a friend of mine, or someone I might have drinks with. That's what everyone said about Bush. That worked out really well. I want someone better than me, vastly superior in intellect etc. I consider myself quite an intelligent person. Is that why we feel this way?

tangobaby said...

If only people realized presidents can inspire and lead exactly because they are smarter than we are, as in Jefferson (scientist, founder of one of the oldest universities in the country--UVA, and the founder of the Library of Congress with his own personal library).

One thing we all need to watch is what I see a lot of, due to our feelings of desperation and sheer incredulity, which is totally natural (and I'm pointing it out in a friendly fashion "and we will see her in the white house") is a feeling that this is a done deal and it's NOT.

We have to be careful not to call this election until it's over. Polls have to be one of the absolute worst indicators of public opinion and can be skewed and tortured into findings that suit whomever is funding them.

Let's try to give our undecideds a little bit of credit and hope that Diebold doesn't help steal this election, too. And in the meantime, not visualizing this woman in the White House unless it really happens.

julochka said...

tara--i think it is why we feel this way, but the real question is, why on earth do we stand for it?

tangobaby--you're right, it's not over yet, but sadly, it feels over from everything i'm reading. but i get what you're saying, we definitely shouldn't visualize her in the white house, that can't possibly's just that it's filling my nightmares (mall and all).

Barb said...

Julie, I don't live in the US, but do follow the election news regularly. I have to say that my cheeks hurt from laughing at your "intellectual" arguments.

Loved it ... love Obama ... hope he wins. Nobody will win with McCain and his camp!!

Course, here in Canada we too are looking towards an election in the fall. Our choices are abyssmal, a PM who has no backbone ... calls an election because nobody likes him anymore, another contender who wants to tax - well everything and then our semi-socialist NDP's who don't have a hope in &*^% of ever winning this seat in Canada after their little foray into Ontario politics.

Shouldn't there be some testing that can be done to ensure that we are getting the best of the best.

Try landing a good position today in a corporation and you are subjected to much testing before you are hired. Why should the people that we trust to run our country be excused from this rigorous personality, character, scholastic & skill testing????

Well, I've run on enough, thanks again for the post ... made my day. B

Magpie said...

no, it's not over yet. really, it's not. because there are a lot of right (left? minded people out there and we WILL prevail.

Unknown said...

Great post. People standing up and speaking out will make the difference. There's a groundswell of quieter folks knocking on doors to get people registered. Keep pointing out the absurdity and we'll keep knocking on doors.

d smith kaich jones said...

Well, I don't agree with you much about this, but I must say it did make me laugh a lot. :) Because BOTH parties do this - it's not just a Republican thing. (I am neither Republican or Democrat, thank God). I mean, how many times have the Dems mentioned that Mccain just doesn't get it? That he doesn't understand what it's like to just be an average Joe? When George Bush 41 ran for president, they - the Dems - made fun of him because he was unfamiliar with barcode scanning at grocery stores; they called him elite. They ALL like to PRETEND they're average people (let's not forget John Kerry in that awful duck-hunting outfit, or Al Gore in jeans - oohh, just the remembrance of that makes my skin crawl.) So I think the anti-intellectual argument works because of the phoniness of the pretenders. I include John McCain in this. I include Obama, I include Biden, I include Hillary, who wasn't above faking an accent when she felt it necessary. So along comes Palin who ISN'T pretending, and for a lot of people, this is a breath of fresh air. Even if they don't agree with her about everything.

So the intellectuals have only themselves to blame. They have pandered for years to those they believe to be below them intellectually. It was a bad idea. Those people understand a lot more than they are given credit for. Even if they live in trailer parks, even if they hunt moose & even if they enter beauty pageants.

I live in Texas. In the South. Where people may appear to be not as "intellectual" as others, but I know for a fact that they are smart mammajammas. And I would trust them to save my behind before I would trust someone who identifies his or herself only by their intellectual capacity.

Still friends?

:) Debi

Glenn Kachmar said...

I'm rather pleased to see someone call Palin what she is - "this right wing, moose hunting, hockey stick wielding, trailer trash wench from alaska." Anyone who can't see that she was a desperate choice by a clueless presidential candidate who is outclassed by his rival on every level, hasn't been paying attention or is blinded by party loyalty (or perhaps is overmedicated).

Anyway, I am glad to see you getting involved in the discussion. It truly affects the whole world. Canadian or not, I want to see the US elect a real leader and there is a chance of that happening. They say you get the government you deserve. Let's hope that Americans deserve a real leader rather than a dinosaur and some trailer trash.

ella at the river said...

I appreciate your passion for your home country. I am from Minnesota Garrison Keillor's home state. My best friend is a Dane, lives in Copenhagen and she is married to a man from Minnesota. So I feel connected to you in a couple of ways. I just read Keillor's piece via your blog. He is angry and so am I, for all of the reasons mentioned here, in your blog and in his commentary. Thank you for putting yourself out there.