Putting Politicians on Pedestals = Precarious.

Yesterday, my good friend Daniel (

) posted a comment on one of this blog’s previous entries, and I don’t know if this breaks some sort of blog etiquette, but I thought this deserved to be promoted to a whole new post. So here’s what Daniel wrote in the comments to my March 5th post “Sundown of a Dream“, followed by my response.

highmoonmedia wrote:

Mar. 24th, 2008 09:20 pm (local)
I know this was posted a while ago now and things have changed, but I really wish people would stop this whole “if Clinton wins McCain becomes president” crap. I continue to watch the race with interest because I want to know who’ll run against McCain (and thus get my vote). I am not an Obama-ite, but I am not a Clinton-ite either, but I grow increasingly uncomfortable with this whole messiah phenomenon whipping up around Mr. O.

“c’est moi, c’est moi, I’m forced to admit …”

Sure. It is likely that we who are of the Obamaniac persuasion are being a bit over-the-top in our praise, our devotion, and our expectations. The media is correct to point out that if Obama walked on Lake Michigan, he would sink. Sure, he’s human, fallible, and I realize that he’s a politician of national prominence, and one does not become a politician of national prominence whilst remaining an unsullied soul. And in the past couple of weeks, Obama has proven to be quite fallible – though NOT for the reasons that the mainstream media is pointing at.

So yes, the “Sundown of a Dream” post was a massive overdramatic reaction by me, on several fronts, and I admit that. Obama is not as golden as I painted him to be, and the situation is not as bleak as I painted it to be. And to be honest, I’m actually happy that both of those things have proven true. I LIKE the fact that I’ve been able to see Obama as a human. Because in the midst of all of it, he still seems to be treating me like an intelligent and informed adult.

The “Sundown …” post was an emo moment for me – I’ve had some of those lately. But for what it’s worth, and whether or not it is justified, Barack Obama’s overall approach, his message, his nuance, his ability to communicate with us as though we’re adults – all of that has reawakened my dormant political idealism and my love of country in a way that no one else has done in my lifetime. (Bill Clinton, ironically, came closest).

There are those of us of a certain temperament … well, maybe it’s presuming a lot for me to lump a group of people together, so let me re-phrase that. I feel like I share a certain reawakened passion and motivation with people like

 ,

 , and a few others, who’ve been impressed with Obama’s approach and his ability to communicate hope and change while treating the citizens of America with more respect and less pandering than politicians typically do. Maybe that’s some sort of scheme, maybe that’s his angle, and maybe he really doesn’t represent the hope and change we’re crediting him with. Maybe we’ve put Obama on a pedestal and are trying to honor him and give him credit for things that are not really there. I get that. In the back of my mind, I often ask those questions. And I do research and keep myself as informed as possible in order to ensure that I’m not just buying into some kind of pipe dream. So far, I’m satisfied that the record backs up the rhetoric, that the guy is as authentic as any national political figure could possibly be, and that my hopes are not just empty wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t dare to expect that everyone – even every liberal – would be as drawn to Obama as I am. In fact, for the first time in our life together, my wife Leah and I are divided in our support of a candidate. Leah is very much a Clinton supporter, and she doesn’t get why I’m so taken by Obama. (She will, however, admit that 80% of her enthusiasm is based on her dream to see a woman in the White House, and she feels Clinton is the only woman who can pull it off at this time in history) In any case, my own wife can’t understand why I like Obama so much – so I can certainly appreciate that several of my friends might not get it, either.

Ironically, it is interesting that recently several people whom I consider close friends were publicly saddened by the death of Gary Gygax, and gave him a great deal of credit for inspiring them and making their hobby possible. It was a level of honor and credit that completely took me by surprise. I didn’t get it. I still don’t. But, because I love and respect my friends, and consider them to be intelligent, thoughtful people, I figure there must be something to this Gygax thing. On some level he must deserve the place he has been given on the pedestal of RPG demigods. Or, more to the point, whether or not I understand the rationale of all the Gygax-love, I can – and should – still honor my friends by accepting the validity of their emotional resonance with him.

Now, as I read over the last couple of paragraphs, I feel like it might sound like I’m saying that Daniel is disrespecting my emotional resonance with Barack Obama. I don’t think that’s my message. I actually am glad that Daniel has questioned me on this, because it’s been another opportunity to test myself to make sure I’m not just blindly buying the Obama line. I CRAVE that kind of honesty in friendship, and it makes me appreciate Daniel all the more for it.

And in the end, it also makes me realize that Daniel is right about something – I have every right to have a lot of emotional resonance with Obama’s MESSAGE and his (apparently) fresh approach to politics, but to the extent that I am resonating with the MAN more than the message, to the extent that I’m putting him on a pedestal, then I need to be very careful.

So, there’s that. Thanks, Daniel, for challenging me. Feel free to do so anytime. 

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2 Comments

  1. Ultimately, I don’t really think it matters. McCain, Clinton and Obama are all enemies of freedom and liberty. Specifically:

    (1) McCain voted for McCain-Feingold, limiting first amendment rights.

    (2) Clinton and Obama both support infringement of second amendment rights though outright bans on various classes of firearms.

    Both of these cases limit my rights, specifically those held to be part of the fundamental rights of man. Thus, I cannot, in good conscience, vote for any of them.

  2. No problem. When I get around to figuring out why Obama doesn’t ring my bell we can chat some more.

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