Thursday, October 11, 2007

Would I Marry This Candidate?

I've been pondering my lack of presidential campaign posts recently. Every time I think I'm fired up enough about something to write one, I just lose the urge entirely. This is partly due to my evolution into that most dreaded and pathetic of all creatures: the undecided voter. Yup. I just can't figure out who should get my vote. I will now have to eat my words; my previous mocking of these unrecruited souls as dimwitted, apathetic and uninspired must now be revised to reflect simple confusion, boredom and exasperation.

I go through the list: Why Hillary Clinton? But why NOT Clinton? Is being hated by every rightie on the planet enough to make me think she's obviously fully qualified? I figure, if Rush Limbaugh hates you with a passion, then you can't be all bad. But what would her policies mean for our country? More importantly, what would the Clinton style of leadership mean for our country?

So why not Edwards? I like his message, I like his "two Americas" approach. I'm not one of those shallow humans who thinks a rich guy can't care about poor guys. I love his wife. But something in me just hasn't caught fire for him.

Well then, why not Obama? Untested? Sure. But you could argue the same for most of the people who have been president in recent years. And "untested" by what standards? I tend to think more of a candidate who has been a working Governor of a state, has balanced budgets, has worked with legislatures, has had to generate some degree of cooperation and comity to get things accomplished. But who's to say that LBJ, having been a Senator, was any less qualified for office than, say, John Connally? What of Truman? He certainly seemed untested in the minds of Americans back in the day. So is Obama unqualified because he has "only" been a Senator?

And what of the others? Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, etc? Maybe we're not even going there because we don't really know enough about any of them to make a good call. Or perhaps there is something about them that just tells us right off the bat that they're not going to get more "presidential" in our eyes, no matter how qualified they turn out to be.

Perhaps it does come down to a voter's personal assessment of what is truly important on the resume of a presidential contender, which is why so many are undecided. For me, I think I'm going to stop focusing entirely on their resume accomplishments and start filtering the candidates through a modified version of "Things to Look for in a Boyfriend/Husband."

Number one, uber alles: Is s/he honest? Not in the "I promise not to lie to you unless absolutely necessary" sense, but in the bone-deep understanding that lying to someone who trusts you and who has invested him/herself in you, is a betrayal from which your conscience should never recover. Does this person respect and cherish the notion that a sacred trust has been placed in his/her hands? Does s/he have a historical understanding and love for the system that has made that trust possible and of the far-reaching, outward-rippling consequences of breaking that trust?

Number Two: Is the person intellectually curious? If he doesn't know something, will he be smart enough to either learn it or find someone who knows it to advise him? Does s/he genuinely want to understand you and your issues? Does he see you as a valuable person in your own right, rather than just another being who can give him things he wants and/or as an obstacle to the things he wants? Is s/he confident enough to seek advice but responsible enough to know when s/he must make a decision and live with the consequences?

Which gets us to Number Three: Capable decision-making skills that separate "self" from "other" while simultaneously recognizing that every decision or action has consequences for everyone involved. Will s/he try to understand a situation before judging or acting impulsively? And in that judgment, will s/he be both fair-minded and decisive? In other words, are you going to come home to a difficult discussion of relationship issues--or to your boyfriend in bed with another woman? And will the feelings that led to the infidelity then be blamed on you? On something YOU lack? Another example might be getting my country into a war on a whim then calling anyone who doesn't think I'm completely justified unpatriotic. Like, I did this because I needed to do it, and now that you won't just get in line with it or stay quiet about it, it must obviously now be some fault of yours that it's now a clusterf*ck. And I'll pay lip service to those who have lost something in this war but it's not gonna change my future actions or my willingness to publicly acknowledge wrongdoing. Most of us have had that boyfriend or girlfriend--and we all sure as hell have had that President. Don't wanna get fooled again.

Which gets us to Number Four, which sort of encapsulates #1-3: Does this person have the BASIC SKILLS for the job? On the emotional front, does the person have the personality and temperament required for a relationship/the Presidency? Does this person understand those requirements and is s/he willing and able to carry them out? Like, if you're not capable of monogamy you probably shouldn't be someone's boyfriend. If you're not able to take the long view of things or if you have no guiding bedrock principles, you probably shouldn't be putting yourself in the position to harm someone else under the guise of loving/taking care of them. If you just want to have a warm body until another warm body comes along(ie, power and attention), consider something less long-term and requiring less commitment.

It seems to me, now that I think about it, that much of the current judging of candidates focuses on the more nuts-and-bolts stuff to define experience. Like if you have never sent troops to war you are not qualified to be President. Hellooo!? No one has. Although I'm sure Rudy Giuliani will find a way to make his 9/11 "accomplishments" seem like war planning...

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, the "intagibles" ought to matter as much as the resume accomplishments. Or, to put it more bluntly, even a virgin can rock your world by the fourth date if he's blessed with qualities 1-3.


Anonymous said...

Hey to defend your undecidedness, please remember this is a primary with 3 top tier candidates that have similar stances on most issues. We are dealing with areas of grey on the policy side. This is not like hmmm Bush or Kerry I just don't know. The general election is a much more stark contrast. -Your favorite pollster

E said...

You ARE my favorite pollster, for more reasons than the fact that you make me feel like less of a shmo on topics like this. :)

Vigilante said...

One of my standards for selecting my perennial favorites, BBB (Before Bush Blight), has been whose voice do I want to hear on the teevee for four years. Now, by employing this nuptial standard, you have certainly raised this bar implausibly. President for life? I don't think so.