Monday, November 3, 2008

President Joe Sixpack

I am continually amazed at how every election year, especially in presidential elections years, the media blathers on and on about candidate x's attempt to "connect with Joe Sixpack." Presidential candidates go on Saturday Night Live or The Late Show with David Letterman to convince us that they have a sense of humor. They take off their ties, roll up their sleeves and go and and do "normal people" stuff. Heck, they even tell us in plain English, "I'm a normal person, just like you."

They play this game in reverse, too. "Joe the Plumber" was this year's everyman that John McCain told us would be best served by his administration. Joe the Plumber, we are told, is just like you and me and just like the candidate himself. Politicians have done this for years, maybe centuries. They love to tell the electorate how they know what "hockey moms" want or how they have spokes to a working mother of five and identified her needs and struggles. Bill Clinton even felt our pain.

Apparently this sham works. People want to feel that their elected leaders can identify with them. To some extent, that is entirely necessary. The President, especially, needs to know what is happening to his (or her) citizens. How can he (or she) serve us if he doesn't know what the heck is going on down here at street level?

But just because he needs to understand us doesn't mean he needs to be one of us. I don't want a President that is just your "average Joe." I want a person who is one in a million, nay one in a trillion. The President should be brilliant. He should inspire. He should know how to win. He should know how to stand tall when the rest of us would be blown over by the winds of turmoil.

John Kennedy was a rich kid from a privileged (but self made) family. The romanticism that surrounds him to this day was because he lived and carried himself like an American king. He was royalty. He was a better man than Joe Sixpack. He had a beautiful wife and family. His administration: Camelot. He wanted America to be something better than it already was, not to be complacent with our comfortable place in the world.

Ronald Reagan, though not an intellectual giant, was a larger-than-life figure. He had a vision for what America should be. In his mind, America would take down communism across the globe without the launching of a single atomic weapon. He'd get the economy up and running again, driving down inflation and creating jobs. Terrorists would fear him. Our hostages in Iran would come home. His presence conveyed that he believed in the nobility of his goals, he intended to keep his promises, and he dared to dream that America could do during his presidency what numerous presidents before him had failed to achieve.

Give me John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan. I don't want to be lead by a person who feels he needs to convince me that he's just like me. If I wanted my leaders to be just like me, I'd run for office myself.

I wish politicians would stop this game of conning the people into believing they are "just regular folk." Inspire us to do greater things ourselves. Get us off the couch and out into our communities. Ask us what we can do for our country. Bring the citizens of this great nation up to your level, Mr. President, don't drag yourself down to ours.

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