29 to go: In praise of elites

provoucherWhen it comes to the next election, we have to encourage voters to raise standards, rather than lower them. that means, voting out the supremely incompetent Republican Party, and voting in Democrats, who at least seemed competent and willing to listen to reason.

Last week, as I listened to Caribou Barbie drone on and on about the goings-on at “1400 (sic) Pennsylvania Ave.,” I was thinking about her 2008 debate with Joe Biden. At the time, I saw her performance as a complete and utter disaster, even as prominent Democrats were praising her for, um, I’m not sure what. I guess they were praising her for not tripping over the podium or falling flat on her face. However, she was running to be first in line to be commander-in-chief, should anything happen to the oldest guy to run for president in a generation. Pardon me for demanding some sort of standards in a vice president.

I think the same thing every time I hear anyone from the current Republican leadership speak. The leadership of the GOP is made up of abject morons. Where are our standards? At what point do we at least take a look at the competence of political candidates? I mean, I don’t care if a progressive candidate agrees with me on everything; I have to at least have an idea that they will be able to do the job competently and professionally, or I will have a hard time getting on board.

I actually had something happen to me within the last few months. I was asked to write a speech for a candidate who is running for city council in a major city on the East Coast. I put together a generally good set of notes, and touched on a number of issues that citizens in the city were concerned about. But I also like to make sure the candidates voice is represented in the speech. When I write a speech for a politician, I don’t like to hear my own words come out; it has to sound as if it’s coming from the politician. So I sat on the phone with this person and, within about 15 minutes, I knew this person was simply not right for the job. This person had lots of good ideas, most of which I was convinced did not come from the candidate. However, I had absolutely no confidence that this candidate could pull any of it off, because the basics of government and how it works was beyond their grasp.

When I opted to do no more work for this candidate, I was told I was the reason that liberals are thought of as “elitist.” Instead of being insulted, I said thank you and hung up. I have thought about this many times over the years. What is wrong with wanting someone elite in any responsible position in government? I’ve had enough of the regular guy I’d want to have a beer with. I have a lot of friends to have beer with, if I really want to have a beer with someone, but almost none are qualified to hold public office. That’s not an insult. Hell, I’m not qualified either, in my opinion. I’m qualified to write position papers and speeches and to help out with campaign strategy, but I don’t have the patience or the demeanor to do the job. I could never sit through one of Darrell Issa’s hearings without laughing, because I have a hard time wading through that much bullshit to get the most basic things done.

It was always said that George W. Bush was a “nice guy” whom “regular people would want to have a beer with.” That worked out well didn’t it? Call me crazy, but I want the people who run the largest ship of state in the world to be competent. I don’t want people in government who have no qualifications, but are able to recite talking points with the best of them. Why does it seem as if competence is too much to ask for these days?

It’s time to ditch the “regular guy” standard altogether, and start demanding more from those who represent us. I know the argument; “Well, a ‘regular guy’ understands what I’m going through and can better deal with it.” Obviously he can’t, because they can’t get any more mediocre and “regular guy” than the idiots in the Tea Party, and onto diddly squat for anyone. The concept is ludicrous anyway. Does it require one to get cancer to understand the importance of cancer research and cancer funding?

With 29 days to go before election day, we have to get serious. On November 4, we will be presented with two candidates in virtually every race. Instead of looking for the person who’s most “like us,” let’s encourage people to vote en masse for people who are better than us and who know more than we do. There is no shame in that. We need politicians who understand the country’s place in the world, and who demonstrate an ability to put the country ahead of their party, as well as to demonstrate excellent judgment and patience when something happens or a crisis arises.

We shouldn’t want politicians in office who try to scare us into thinking I’m going to get the Ebola virus and die, for example. Instead, we should be looking for politicians who can get a handle on it heand help pass those measures that will contain the virus and keep it away from the majority of people. And then there’s ISIL. There are commercials running here in Denver that castigate Sen. Mark Udall for daring to say that ISIL does not constitute an imminent threat to the United States. Once more, call me nuts, but that’s the kind of person I want as my Senator. ISIL is not an imminent threat to the United States. It could become one at some point, so I’m glad our leadership is taking them seriously and working to reduce the threats. But we shouldn’t want public officials who are trying to scare the crap out of us. We should want public officials who seemed competent to deal with anything that comes up, and deal with it in a way that doesn’t disrupt our lives any more than is absolutely necessary.

I remember my Uncle Dominic, who died when I was a teenager. Uncle Dominic was a blowhard. He was a very nice man, and everyone liked him personally, but his solutions to just about every problem consisted of bombing the shit out of someone. Life is more nuanced than that, and we need public officials in every level of government who understand that, and who don’t see every single thing is this country faces in a black and white way. There are millions of shades of gray on every issue, and we need to start electing people based on their education, their demeanor and their perceived competence, and not how friendly they seem, or that they look like they drink plenty of beers.

Everyone who holds public office is required to swear an oath when they take office, to uphold the Constitution and the principles contained therein. Is it really too much to ask that everyone who takes that oath at least have a basic understanding of what’s in the Constitution and what their job is? Instead, right now, we have one political party — the Republican Party — who are openly scornful of the American people they have sworn to protect, and who repeatedly placed the political success of their party ahead of the needs and desires of the American people who elected them. and yet, here we are 29 days before the election, and this party who couldn’t care less about the American people is running neck and neck with the political party that is virtually kissing the asses of every American they can. There is no comparison to be made between the two political parties. There never was really, but the differences now are so stark that, if you don’t see them, you are politically blind.

We should want more elitists in office. Being an elite means you are the best at what you do. In every other area of our lives, we look for the best to perform a job. I mean, you don’t look for a “regular guy” physician, do you? When you hire a lawyer, you don’t care if he’s a “regular guy,” as long as he can win your case. When your pipes are leaking, and you’re looking for a plumber, one of the criteria is not whether or not he’ll have a beer with you, is it? So, why do we make an exception when it comes to those people who serve us as public officials?

We need to return to standards. We need the best and the brightest to serve us in our government. That means getting rid of as many Republicans as possible on November 4, and for many election days to come.

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