I have a point to make but before I do so I want to put my audience in the proper frame of mind. When I consider the perfect woman I think of somebody who is very slender, drop dead gorgeous with perfect makeup and long hair. Of course with these attributes there’s no question that she’s going to be a very intelligent person.
I realize that I have now insulted at least half of my audience and that would include my wife. Although, of course, she fits all the attributes above. I would do the same for my male audience but it’s harder to insult males. If I describe somebody who is 6-foot tall, ruggedly handsome with dark wavy hair, well that just describes all of us. At least the way we males see ourselves. Although the reality is often strikingly different, we just choose to ignore that.
I put myself in harm’s way by saying this because I want people to realize that we put way too much emphasis on appearance. Given the choice between two different politicians, way too often we will select the one that we consider better looking. We don’t take the time to understand their education, their stand on important issues, we only look at them and say he’s good-looking, he must know what he’s talking about.
With the help of our news media, we’ve taken this a step further. Now in order to be a successful politician you have to have lived a perfect life for the last 20 years. At no other time in history have our private lives been so public.
With the Internet anything we say is recorded for posterity and can be held against us for our entire life. It makes no difference that we can change our mind, that we will change our mind as we see the world through different eyes. The perfect politician is apparently somebody who has never committed himself to an opinion and therefore was never wrong.
Living in Texas, subject to our schoolbook regulatory committee, I’m constantly amazed at the way we apply current day values to condemn our historic leaders. Unfortunately, we seem to do the same for our current politicians. If twenty years ago someone wrote that Y2K would destroy our civilization, I’m sure that if they were running for office the news media would bring that out immediately to show what a fool they were.
In this time of zero-tolerance policies I’m afraid that we are applying the same zero tolerance mindset to the election of our politicians. We don’t take into consideration that they are human, they will make mistakes, they will grow emotionally and their opinions will change. The persons they were 20 years ago, is usually vastly different than the persons they are now.
If you’ve seen Bruce Willis’ vaguely disturbing Surrogates you’ll understand what I mean when I wonder if that’s not the direction we’re starting to go with professional politicians.
Think about this. Go out to Nebraska, find somebody who’s lived in a small town all his life, never written anything and never had trouble with the law. If he’s handsome, he’s your perfect politician. The fact that he may not have two thoughts to rub together is immaterial. That’s why politicians have handlers and spin doctors.
Yes, Congress is full of people that don’t meet this criteria. That’s a good thing but the sad part is we are getting more and more people in Congress who do meet that criteria and it’s our fault.
Next time you get ready to vote for somebody, look past their physical appearance, look past that paper they wrote twelve years ago, look past their political affiliations twenty years ago. Take a hard look at who they are now and what they believe now. Then make your vote. We’ll all benefit.Opinion by pen