Saturday, November 17, 2007

Well, Yes, But...

My chum Jerry sent a link to this thought-provoking entry from The Seminal:

You know what I really endorse? Change.
Posted by Jake

I was reading over what I wrote a few weeks ago in regards to my endorsement for a Presidential Candidate, and I must say I am kind of disappointed in myself. I should’ve had the onions to say what I really feel, what is really going on in the attic and what I feel deep down in the basement. So here it is: I’m not happy with anyone running for President, on both sides of the aisle. The Democratic Party is truly squandering an amazing opportunity to remake the party into the party that President Truman believed it to be: the party for all (yes, history fans, look it up). Why do I have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama or John Edwards? Is this truly the best that we, and I’m speaking as a card-carrying voting member of the Democratic Party, can do? Same ole shit with different people, sort of, saying it over and over again.

People who know me--and people who don't know me but have read some of my stuff (this, for instance) know that I share Jake's current disgust and dismay with the Democratic Party. But the problem is, what to do?

Well, Jake has reached a decision:

From here on out I refuse to endorse or vote for anyone who is linked to an individual who has already been in a major office. No more Jr’s or the III’s or spouses or anything. One family gets one shot. This is America, and last I checked it’s a democracy, so why should families “own” Senate and Congressional Seats, be entitled to the Governors’ Mansions, or even worse the Oval Office? Hillary is the most qualified? Why? Because she slept with, at least once, President Bill Clinton? Why don’t I see Monica Lewinsky on the ballot in Iowa, if that’s all it takes (and she might’ve earned it more!). I’m flat out tired of these no-talent ambitionless hacks running our government, and that goes for my good friends Ted Kennedy, Evan Bayh, and Bob Casey Jr. Granted, Senator Kennedy may go down in history as one of the greatest United States Senators ever, and perhaps the best overall ‘politician,’ but he certainly rode the coat-tails of his brothers, he’s just unique in the sense that he didn’t get close to the Promised Land. Also, if Senator Kennedy’s name was, perhaps, Senator Smith he’d go no recognition for what he does…in other words he’d be Senator Robert Byrd. (Read the rest of Jake's essay here.)

It's an interesting and understandable position Jake has climbed up onto, but in the end it smacks of slicing off one's nose, for you automatically rule out potentially qualified candidates simply because of their family trees. Jake himself concedes that Senator Ted Kennedy "may go down in history as one of the greatest United States Senators ever"--but if we follow Jake's no-relatives formula, we're depriving ourselves of "one of the greatest United States Senators ever." How is that progress?

And why, in the end, should I care about Ted's brothers? Or Hillary's husband? Or the current president's father? Or any of it? One hopes--naively, but still--that we voters choose candidates based on qualifications, whatever exactly that means, rather than family ties. For that matter, one hopes that we don't discount a given candidate simply because we didn't like his uncle, or her second cousin once removed, or whatever.

In an ideal world, we would judge a given candidate on his or her own merits. Yes, I have noticed that this is not an ideal world. But I don't think that that means we should stop trying.

Jake does, later, offer this:

The meat, my friends, is who candidates really are. What if a candidate didn’t have to promise anything to anyone but rather make an honest promise to the voters? If a candidate didn’t need to spend every other day hob-knobbing at some fundraiser in a converted gymnasium with shitty food (yes, $10,000 a plate still gets you shitty buffet style food) then maybe they’d come up with real solutions to real problems.

Which shows that his heart is in the right place. Still, the way things are today, I can't advocate dismissing anyone out-of-hand simply because of his or her last name, or having held office at some level, or having the wrong color hair. The stakes are too high.

No comments: