Friday, July 11, 2008

Post No. 27: The Inability of our Leaders to Please (or Lead?) Us

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

As simple as we like to make things for comprehension and managerial purposes, we all recognize the complexities associated with anything that involves human emotion. Such is the case with respect to those with whom we at least partially identify, and in whom we place our hopes.

Politicians are unusual animals. The circumstances surrounding their ascension to power virtually require that they be something less than straightforward and transparent. They are the personification of the Transformers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformers_%28toy_line%29) toy line. They simply have far too many different individuals and groups, not to mention interests, to please, other than their own. As the old 70’s song indicated, “Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be.”

Several months ago, this notion was brought home to me while conducting one of my regular bookstore walk-throughs. Roughly two or three times a week, I travel to the nearest Border’s or Barnes & Noble, and aimlessly walk through the various stacks. I came across a book about Hillary Clinton. It was actually a collection of roughly thirty articles written by thirty different female writers, about their perceptions of Senator Clinton, since she was catapulted on the national scene. As I thumbed through the pages, the thing that struck me was how virtually every writer did not like something about her, and suggested that she had failed to perform or behave in the manner desired by the writer, or the group which the writer felt she represented. (I conducted a Google Book Search to locate the book, and could not find it. However, take a look at the number of books written about her, and just scan the summaries to get a sense of the tone. (http://books.google.com/books?q=%22hillary+clinton%22&lr=&sa=N&start=0)

It appears that Senator Obama faces the same dilemma. Certain segments of the African-American population, which is clearly not monolithic, have certain expectations of him. Various groups within the Democratic Party have other expectations. The poor and the disenfranchised, along with the disillusioned, probably feel that he represents certain of their interests. The academic, intellectual types have different thoughts.

That we had two potential Democratic candidates, who would have been the first within their respective large subsets of our population, presented all sorts of problems for the voting public. Lots of folks, including former Clinton supporters, and perhaps even some moderate Republicans and Independents, now expect Senator Obama to champion their cause. It will not happen, and it is unrealistic to expect it to happen. Yet, we keep pressing them, meaning all politicians, as if they can represent the interests and desires of us all. John McCain has been criticized for seemingly backing away from his straight talking, maverick image, into a clone of the current President. Quite frankly, it would be great if the candidates could just be themselves. Those of us serving as parents to multiple children recognize the ridiculousness of such a concept.

What also happens is that when the various groups supporting a particular candidate have far too many expectations of their candidate, it opens the door for the opponents of that candidate to attack another aspect of the candidate’s platform. Every issue becomes an easy target. Of course, we all realize that all of these issues do not have equal weight and significance. If somehow, we as citizens could reduce what we expect out of a candidate to perhaps five or six primary positions, we might be able to reduce all of this irrational slicing and dicing that is the political campaign. A candidate focusing on those five or six primary positions might also do the voting public a service, in that he or she would remind us to focus on what is most important, and to avoid sweating the small stuff.

In the very first article which appeared on this blog, we discussed this issue in another context. In his overlooked work, The Disuniting of America, (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n9_v44/ai_12122328), legendary Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761556940/Schlesinger_Arthur_Meier_Jr_.html) wrote of how the pursuit of individual self-interests by special interest groups has lead to America’s inability to unify its efforts. He wrote of the continuing disintegration of our society driven by the pursuit of individual goals, not collective goals. He wrote of how the first Gulf War was an aberration in terms of recent events which caused us to rally together, and also resulted in the first President Bush’s 82% approval rating at the time. Unfortunately, the current war in Iraq has had the opposite effect. Be that as it may, continuing in the direction of further dissection of our candidates does not bode well for either party. Perhaps, that is why an independent, third party may hold the most promise for America’s future.

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

3 comments:

  1. I don't think that there is a single person capable of accepting another person exactly as they are. As you mentioned about Clinton, how all the writers seemed to dislike something about her, well, i think it's only natural. The fact that she's an important political figure makes it even harder for people not to do so. Or at least that's what I think...

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  2. A person will be judged by the company they keep. It makes sense in relation to your post. The company they choose shows who, of the many they have to prioritize, they valued.

    The other side of that coin is a person should be judged by the company they choose not to keep. Same reason but the other end of the spectrum.

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  3. A person will be judged by the company they keep. It makes sense in relation to your post. The company they choose shows who, of the many they have to prioritize, they valued.

    The other side of that coin is a person should be judged by the company they choose not to keep. Same reason but the other end of the spectrum.

    ReplyDelete

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