So, this morning I was scanning blogs that linked to mine the previous day and, at the always worthwhile POWIP, I came across an old-but-interesting post by Enoch Root on the elitist accusations of, well, a lack of intelligence on the part of Sarah Palin. (And it’s been rearing it’s head again, lately.) But it wasn’t the post itself that got me thinking, and thus inspired this post, but an exchange in the comments between two of my Twitter-friends, Dan and Darcy, in which both said, in effect, “She’s not my ideal candidate, but…” and then proceeded to give reasons why they liked or sympathized with her.
That got me thinking about candidates for office in general and how we the voters express our support for them. So, let me ask:
Why are we afraid or embarrassed simply to say we like a candidate, without feeling the need to add a qualifier? And I mean all of us, not particularly my friends above (they just reminded me of this), because I’ve heard it time and again from so many people, including myself: “I like him, but…” followed by some sort of agreement that the person is sadly flawed.
Is it that we’re afraid to be seen as naive, uncritical fans, someone whose candidate selection process stops at “He’s The One” or “She’s gorgeous” and then falls into the electoral equivalent of Beatlemania? Is it that we’re going overboard to be “fair and balanced” by always pointing out likes and dislikes? Or are we trying to avoid an argument with people who might take exception to our support for a particular politician?
In other words, why can’t I (or anyone) say I like a politician without having to prove I’m not the type to faint at rallies?
And there’s another question: Do we really expect to find the ideal candidate?
An ideal is just that: a perfection that can never be duplicated in the real world. A political Platonic Form. An aspiration that one will never realize. Just as there is no rose without a blemish, so there is no candidate without flaw.
Why set ourselves up for the inevitable downer by saying a person is not ideal? No one is. Except one.
You are the only potential candidate you are ever going to agree with one hundred percent of the time and whose values you share completely. The same goes for me. If, by “ideal,” I mean someone with whom I’m in total accord, then only I can fulfill that role. Anyone else, even Sarah Palin, will fall short to one degree or another. And, since I’m not running (Yes, that’s my formal announcement. The field is now clear.), I will have to accept a candidate who is not ideal.
And so will you. Since it’s a given that every candidate will be less-than-ideal, why do we feel the need to confess it about someone we like at every opportunity, as if we’re somehow embarrassed?
To bring this around to the conversation that started it all, let me make a simple declaration:
“I like Sarah Palin. I like her record in office, I like her values and political philosophy. I hope she runs for president and, if she does, I plan to vote for her. I think she’d be an excellent president.”
I feel no need to qualify that statement of support preemptively. Now, if someone were to challenge me during a discussion, sure, I would acknowledge there are obstacles to her election: for example, her resignation as governor of Alaska in 2009. While I’m satisfied with her reasons for quitting, for others it may be an insurmountable obstacle. I recognize that. But I don’t feel a need to say “I like her, even though…” whenever I express support.
And that will likely* be true for me no matter who the Republican** nominee is in 2012. It should be for all of us. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking for the perfect candidate, and don’t be ashamed to say you like someone.
*There are one or two Republicans I’d have to hold my nose while voting for them, but that’s a post for another day.
**Since Obama is the likely Democratic nominee in 2012 and since the Party leadership overall has drifted far to the Left, I won’t have this same situation with them. Trust me on that.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)