caught between generations
All of the hoopla about the “women candidates” for President and Vice President (What DOES the Vice-President do, anyway?) have left me even more ambivalent about the upcoming election. It’s not that I don’t care about politics. During my college days, I was the campaign manager for a few successful candidates who went on to serve not only our university, but to become involved in “real” politics after college. The present situation does remind me of that. The problem for me is that too much attention is being paid to who the candidates are, and not enough to what they have done that makes them qualified for the job. No matter what the gender (or for that matter, religion, political persuasion, or club membership), I think the real test of a leader is his (or her) ability to take the necessary risks when the situation warrants, and then take the credit (insert: blame, responsibility) for making that decision, and adjust as necessary. It’s one thing to say you believe in something, but another to actually put your actions where your mouth has been. I’m not sure that the American people are ever ready for someone who would actually tell us what they really think, as opposed to what they think we want to hear. Too often, their handlers become their protectors, and we never see the real person behind the carefully cultivated image. Clinton came close, and I respect her for that. I’m not sure about Obama yet, and as far as John McCain goes, well, the fact that he is from the place I call my home state should count for something.
Before I get any more off track, I should say that my thoughts about the presidential campaigns are constantly intertwined with news of my high school’s upcoming celebration of it’s 50th anniversary. My high school is in Tucson, Arizona, and my graduating class will also celebrate their 40th anniversary next year. (For those of you that can do the math, that means I might be classified as OLD.) I spent my high school and college years in a part of the country where individual rights are taken very seriously, and much of how I view national politics stems from that influence. Even though I returned to the East Coast (where I was born) over twenty years ago, the lessons I learned in the American West about my word being my bond have stuck with me. Where I came from, people naturally assumed you were telling the truth unless it was proven otherwise. In this area, the reverse seems true. If you say something that they don’t understand or agree with, they automatically assume you must be lying. After I got over the initial shock of this attitude, I developed an attitude of my own. It goes something like this: what makes you think you have the right to decide what other people should think, or how they should act, or what they should believe in? Are they harming you? Are they breaking the law? Are YOU perfect? I guess the two events (the upcoming election and my upcoming reunions) are alike in one respect: some things change while others remain the same. I’m still trying to figure out whether that makes me feel reassured or irritated.
Please excuse my momentary visit to the soapbox. I’m done now :).