Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa at the polls

With Santa Claus traditionally stationed at the North Pole, one wonders if his civic duties will include manning the polls in the upcoming primaries. He might have vested interests in reindeer preservation bills or international imports and exports (does his sleigh stop at customs?). Perhaps, instead, he'll cock an eyebrow at politicians claiming to be on the Nice List. Which of the candidates has received coal in their stocking on recent Christmases?
There are several issues topping my list this year for What I'd Like In A Candidate. Perhaps I should send Santa a bureaucratic, political wish list this year. Romney's out; not because he's a Mormon, but because I don't agree with his views; Giuliani, I have mixed feelings about; McCain, now, this surprises me, but from debate segments I've watched on YouTube, McCain is one of my top choices. Huckabee was also but now he's annoying me. Tancredo is more or less a joke, attempting to ride the coattails of the immigration controversy.
Friends who know me well have asked if I'll vote for Hillary because she's a woman. Now, as much as I like the idea of a Madam President, a commander in chief who you can stop and say, "nice earrings" to, I have enough common sense to know that the solution is not to elect a woman for the sake of a woman. I disagree with her on many topics, though not all, but when it comes down to it, I don't trust her. I'm not convinced she would act for others' good over her own. She has too many legal questions trailing behind her for me to believe that she wouldn't do whatever it took to save her own hide.
In my opinion, the Democrats would be foolish to run Barack Obama, and I think they know it would not succeed; perhaps Barack could land a VP slot, but even if Middle America is ready for a black president - and they should be - they are not ready for someone whose name so easily tongueties news anchors, who I've heard mistakenly say, "Obama bin Laden." It's the fate of the draw: people with school mascots of Cornhuskers or Razorbacks are not going to spring for an Obama.
Will there be a Clinton/Obama ticket? I wouldn't be surprised. I'd feel comfortable with a Giuliani/McCain ticket. Italian meets Scotch/Irish.
And now, the kicker: everybody wants my vote. They want my business at the polls, so to speak. Overall, I'm not too much of a target: Caucasian, but female. And that's where it gets interesting: will women - overall, at large - vote for a woman? Of course I posit that one should vote for the best candidate, male, female, white, black, Hispanic, I don't care: who is the best? I do not think that Hillary is the best. And it is the season of informal fallacies, those logical no-no's that pop up in campaign ads: vote for such and such, he goes to church (so did Ted Haggard); vote for such and such, she has ovaries (that makes a huge difference in her values and belief system!); vote for so and so, he saved his kids' hamster (therefore he'll make a good president???); vote for whatshisname, he voted to save the elderly (but did he tack on a ridiculous amendment?) and on.
The other day I was thinking about "the black vote," "the Hispanic vote," "the female vote." I was getting rather insulted by it. Instead of constituents, we're seen as targeted demographics to woo to a product. It's handy in an analytical, strategic sense; subcultures have important common identifying factors about themselves that emerge as larger trends. I get that. But what about values-based voting? What if newscasters reported on "the humanist vote," or "the Nietzschean vote," or even "the atheist vote"? Television has launched political debate from ideas to faces; from values to marketability; from integrity to personal anecdote. Reagan managed to portray, as few else have been able, the merger of these elements: he put a kind face to ideas, communicated his values clearly and winsomely, and underlined his character with self-deprecating stories and humor.
One time I heard a communications professor relate a story: as an advertising guru, a company brought him in to consider using his services. They expressed what they wished him to communicate about their product and services. They also told him about the troubles they'd had with a situation that hurt confidence in them, related to some dishonesty or less than honorable practices. He finally looked the boardmembers in the eyes and said in no uncertain terms that he wasn't going to lie for them; they were confused. He went on to explain that if the underlying issues of ethics and honesty weren't dealt with, all the advertising in the world wouldn't soothe their clients, and moreover, he didn't want to misrepresent something as reliable when it simply wasn't. He told them what things would have to be in place for him to feel comfortable representing them in advertising. At this point, he was certain that this was one gig he wasn't going to land. After dismissing him for quite a while, the board called him back in. "You showed integrity, the thing we've been missing, and you're absolutely right about this situation. We need someone like you. As a matter of fact, we'd like you to consider being the new president of our company."
Now that's leadership.

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