Gene Healy is a young author of The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power. I read the transcript of a speech he made to Cato University (a Libertarian group) last July and this quote grabbed my attention:
If we need heroes in our lives, we shouldn’t go looking for them among professional politicians, for God’s sake.
It was in September when Mixonian posted an article on heroes and what they tell us about ourselves. The same goes for our presidential choices – they show us what a president should look like and act like, according to the majority of voters.
Since it’s easier to see things in another culture than in one’s own, I saw this first with utmost clarity in my study on Hugo Chavez. He is the embodiment of what a president should be like – to a significant number of Venezuelans. He is like what we would call a “good ol’ boy” in our culture, but one who is exceedingly brilliant a master of public speaking. His appeal is similar, but not identical, to Bill Clinton’s.
In a country as multicultural as is the U.S., it’s not surprising that there are conflicting images of what a president should look like…remember the Gore versus Bush debacle. In a country that supports individuality as much as ours does, that disparity in political ideals is no surprise.
If you’re like me, neither of the candidates really personified what I think an American president should look like. So you vote for the candidate who is closest to your ideal.
Now that it’s over, what does the election really mean?
1. Barack Obama represents the ideal president to a significant number of Americans. They believe he can fix things to suit their picture of what a government is supposed to do.
2. If Barack Obama does not represent your idea of what a president should be like, remember that such is the price of living in a democracy: your candidate doesn’t always win. The U.S. will continue to be the land of opportunity for the foreseeable future.
It’s time to leave the campaign behind us and get back to tending our own gardens.