29 August 2012

too successful to be successful

So I am hearing the political talk surround me and I am a bit concerned over what is passing as sound argument.  This, of course, is no different from most any other campaign season when the soundbites seem to overtake the substance.  There are many different areas which need to be addressed, yet I will consider one in particular: the notion that someone is "too successful" to be the leader.  Yes, I am speaking here of that which has been hurled at Mitt Romney in his current presidential campaign bid.  The buzz seems to be how he can "overcome" his $200 million approximate net worth and "relate" to the ordinary folks.

This is stupid.

(Quick side-note: It appears to me that the same people leading the charge that the president should be just like one of us were largely responsible for promoting Mr. Obama because he was better than us.  At least, that's what we were being told in 2008 - even that message seems to have accrued much tarnish lately.)

My nagging question is this: What is wrong with having a leader who has been successful?  In the United States our president oversees the executive workings of a $15.09 Trillion GDP, a more than $3.5 Billion annual government budget, a national debt closing in on $16 Trillion, and an economy which has been under direct assault for the last three years.  These are numbers which are, frankly, beyond the majority of Americans' ability to comprehend.  Who should take on the current problems, therefore?  Perhaps some guy who has never had to balance a checkbook beyond $5000 ... or someone who has never had any management experience ... or a randomly chosen person who doesn't even know how a GDP works (or what the abbreviation even means).  It seems to me that this would be more in line with the "average" American of today.

(Quick second side-note: Why do we assume that we have a choice between a rich elitist and a common man?  Most Americans do not have the means of attending Harvard (even if they wanted to), and have not had their careers handed to them without difficulty ... Being an elitist is how you carry yourself and, well, our current president does this very much.)

I am a theologian by trade.  I am a thinker of spiritual things, so I must wonder this as well ... Do we always seek relatability from our messiahs ... either human or God-given?  The thought-processes that drive us to have leaders and presidents who are "just like us" must come from somewhere, and I would suppose that a good amount of this is our spiritual desires and needs.  Thus, we read the gospel and figure that the Incarnation happened so that God could relate to humanity.  Haven't we all been told that at some point or another?  That Jesus was fully human so that he could relate to us - he could cry and laugh and get hungry and fight off dirty thoughts - this is our self-centered understanding of creation and the will of God.  But the Incarnation didn't happen as a cosmic socio-scientific experiment.  The Incarnation is the holy-and-other-God breaking into our humanity so that we might be transformed into his glory.

Every four summers our house has a break in our routine and we keep either one or two eyes toward the television so that we can enjoy the Olympic games.  One of the reasons why this is captivating is that these are athletes (some who are incredibly young to be this proficient) who do amazing feats and compete in an elite group, the likes that the rest of us mere mortals will never comprehend.  In fact, this is a notorious time when you hear the television commentators critique things and explain judges scores by finding faults that the average person would never see regardless of the amount of slo-mo replays.  We gather this group of people together because they are better, stronger, faster than the rest of us.  They are fit for the task.

So, the impetus of this post is simply that I am tired of the ridiculous rhetoric of self-centerdness that has overtaken our culture.  The attitude of if-I-can't-relate-then-I'm-not-interested is one of the latest ways that this is coming out.  Unfortunately, there are very few people who are in the position of effectively combatting the rewarding of such behavior ... and fewer still who are willing to do so.  Again we push forward with the relentless attacks (already by the sitting administration, no less) that amount to character assassination rather than substantive dialogue.  The all-powerful "undecided voters" will have their next fifteen minutes, for in a self-centered culture indecisiveness is an admirable quality - although you might not be like me, by not stating an opinion you are more than likely avoiding being not like me and thus someone I with whom I still relate.  (Follow that?)

How about we forget about the likeability factor and the relatability concerns and seek to find the most qualified person for the job which is at hand.  This isn't the Friend-in-Chief, the Entertainer-in-Chief, the Pastor-in-Chief, or the Golfer-in-Chief ... We are in search of a president who can right the ship which has so terribly gone of course.  I have a confident and optimistic faith that change is in the air, this time for good and not just for hope.

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