Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Well, the election is over. Hey, not all is lost -- at least the upstanding man I wanted for sheriff was elected. So, there's more than one new sheriif in town, pardner.

Not that it would have made any difference, but I wish I'd have started paying more serious attention to the presidential election sooner than I did. I have often made the comment that, realistically, I wonder how much impact the president really has on the economy. This is one case where I do think the impact will be significant.

Regardless, I believe that leaders deserve respect, encouragement and prayer. Therefore, I have promised to support Presidnet Obama to the extent that my morals and conscience will allow me. However, if he goes plunging over a cliff trying to make us all follow him like lemmings, I'll be writing about it.

There is one thing that really gets me about last night though. Repeatedly, I heard people on television saying what a "proud moment" this is for America to have elected an African American president. I don't get that. I don't get it at all.

For me, this election was never about race. It was about finding the best people for the jobs. It was about leadership, character, and policies -- who offered the best combination of the three. It was never about race.

In many decisions, there is what I call the "water cooler justification" and then there is the real reason -- the "emotional justification". The "water cooler justification" is the common sense and rational reason for the decision that folks will talk about to their buddies at work around the water cooler (or wherever people gather). In this case, that seemed to be the economy for most people and Iraq for others. Both are great, rational things to study and base your decision on.

The problem comes in when people, despite what they say around the water cooler, base their decision on their "emotional justification". And the "emotional justification" tends to be what they talk about right after the decision becomes final -- the truth always comes out. In many cases, despite their water cooler talk, they haven't really even studied the rational things upon which their decision could be made ... their decision was really made solely on emotion.

It's like buying a sporty new car. You may "say" you're buying it for the gas mileage or for the engineering or because it fits your family well or perhaps even because you got a great deal. That is your water cooler justification. But, when you first bring it home, all you can think or talk about is how cool it looks and how cool you will look in it. That is the emotion that really drove the decision.

All the talk last night about what a proud moment this is for America to have chosen an African American president, to me, resembles this sort of emotion-based decision. Immediately after the deal is sealed, the water cooler justification is no longer talked about -- the real reason driving the decision comes out. And that bothers me.

Sometimes, especially when we are in a situation we don't like, we make decisions based solely on emotion. It is, in some ways, a passive aggressive response. Also, sometimes when we're young and want to snub our noses at those older than us, we make even very important decisions based on emotional reasons -- what looks good or feels cool rather than what we have really researched and found to be the best decision. I voted for Ross Perot in 1992 ... his policies did make sense to me but the real reason I voted for him was that I have never been a big fan of any of the Bushes and I wanted to snub my nose at the elder Bush. (And so Clinton was elected president and now I get to explain to my son who this Monica Lewinsky in the blue dress was that was all over the headlines on the day he was born in 1998.)

So, I am wondering, how many folks who voted for Obama will someday wake up and realize that they made a decision based strictly on emotion -- that they voted race and rock star status rather than leadership, character, and policies?

I hope and pray that is never the case but time will tell.

If you voted for Obama, are you willing to post a comment here and say what it was about his Leadership, Character, and Policies that you really studied and liked ... or tell us what else drove your decision? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

  posted at 4:52 AM  

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. Here goes....

It was a very difficult decision for me b/c I have always admired Senator McCain and have thought that if he ever ran for president, he would be a Republican I could get excited about. I think Gov. Palin said it aptly at the convention--If anyone has ever earned the right to run for and be the President of the United States, it is John McCain.

That being said, there were several reasons I voted the way I did. I think your assessment on watercooler v. emotional is very perceptive and I will be the first to admit that I probably have some of that emotional "rock star" admiration going on....

1. I tend to list to the left a little on a good day--I like the idea of national healthcare, getting out of Iraq right away, not drilling offshore or in the protected Alaskan wilderness areas. I have never been a fan of "trickle-down" and think that when the working poor and middle class are stronger, America is stronger. I think the number of abortions goes down when there are more opportunities for those at the bottom.

My explanations here are a bit too simplified and b/w and I know there are nuances that I neither understand or have dug into too deeply.

2. I really didn't like Bush. I think part of my vote was a reaction to 8 years of W. I probably followed the other Lemmings here. I thought the SNL skit with W. endorsing a reluctant McCain was very funny--"When you vote for McCain, picture this face. Its like a vote for me" all the time with a reluctant McCain trying to pull away....

3. I liked the old McCain and not the McCain I saw running. I think he was always a centrist Republican who didn't mind speaking his mind and pissing people off. I didn't see any of that McCain in the election. I think he courted the core conservative of the party and alienated those who might have voted for him. Not unlike the conservative democrats who voted for Reagan in 80 (not sure I know what I am talking about here).

4. McCain, like Bush before him, seems reactionary while I find Obama a bit more thoughtful. Whether it was his response to the Russians or suspending his campaign for the economic crisis, I find McCain to be a bit reactionary while Obama seems cool under fire. Perceptions.

5. Colin Powell. I'm a big fan and have always said i would have voted for him in a heartbeat if he ran. I didn't see his endorsement of Obama as a racial thing. His endorsement held a lot of weight for me. Truth be told, your endorsement of McCain held a lot of weight as well and I probably wouldn't have struggled as much if it weren't for you. Your like a Svengali....

6. Really didn't like Palin. Not a big fan of Biden either but I thought she was a bonehead choice for VP. Too much baggage and while I appreciate the "maverick" moniker, I don't know how such a total outsider can make a difference w/o any clout or skin in the game. Really didn't like her at all. And someone in the McCain camp should have said, "You know, she sort of looks like Tina Fey." Sometimes, I think the Republicans don't watch enough television (i.e. Stephen Colbert at the National Press Corp Dinner several years ago. Somebody got sent to Baghdad w/o Kevlar for that one....). To reiterate though--I don't like Biden any better. If I can't plagiarize and pass, then neither should he!

7. I like the guy. I think he is cool under pressure, he is eloquent and has captured the attention of a younger generation. I find that very interesting and exciting.

Now, all that being said, a story to share--I have a close friend who voted for Obama. "I didn't vote for him because he is African American. He wasn't my first choice for the Democratic nomination actually. But, in my family's past, there are Klan members. In a way, I saw my vote and his election as an amends for 300+ years of slavery, oppression and racism." I like that. Making amends. I think it is thrilling that America has elected an African American president. I don't think it is a gimmick or a fad. Yes, he does have rock star status right now. All that's going to fade before the end of the first 100 days in office. He is going to be raked over the coals for every move he makes. The same liberal media that helped get him elected will just as quickly crucify him.

All that being said--and I know you disagree with me--but I keep going back to the great prophet Pete Townsend who said, "Here's the new boss. Same as the old boss...." In seriousness, I keep going back to N.T. Wright's writings on the "Myth of Progress" as well. I should probably explain that but I should get some "work" done and I have been told that lately, I am sending really long emails and this comment is no exception....

Thanks Todd!


At 1:07 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

Thanks TR.

No point in arguing now ... we will play the hand dealt us but a couple of closing thoughts:

1) As a businessperson who has worked for the past 20+ years, 70 - 90 hours each and every week ... with the STATED MAIN GOAL of providing economic development and gainful employment to others (cue violin music), I'd be fibbing if I didn't admit that the wind is really taken out of my sails to have a president who, along with his cadre of closest followers, continually paints businesses as evil and money-grubbing. From my personal perspective, as well as from most of my business-owning friends, nothing is farther from the truth. I understand that may sound whiney and perhaps it is ... I am not trying to be a prima donna ... but the wind is out of my sails ... In a couple of months though perhaps there will be enough hot air coming out of DC to fill them again. :-)

2) I did not make a big deal of this earlier but I have very little trust in Obama or gaffe-prone Biden to handle international affairs. I will be anxious to see who Secretary of State will be. I am concerned that we could be going from bad to worse in terms of military involvement because of messed up relations ... I know I could be wrong and I hope I am but that concerns me. It would bother me greatly to see a military draft have to be enacted. I would be very proud if my son would choose to go into the military in a few years but I want it to be his choice, not by draft.

That's what I got. Thanks again.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

By the way, TR ... sorry I did not say this earlier but I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and they give me hope on many levels.

I wish I knew more about so many things. National healthcare being one of them. I was scared off of it several years ago by a doctor I had dinner with in Quebec who told me his impressions and how he would never go to a hospital in Canada for anything he needed but I know that gentleman the other day told you how great their system is. So, I wish I knew more.

I really respect your vote for Obama because I know that you did put a lot of thought and prayer into it. Your insights and comments are great.

I'd still love, though, to have someone really take me to task on my opinion of his economic plan. Of course, we all know that will prbably all change drastically at some point ... just as McCains's would have.

In a lot of ways, I think it will be a fun next four years. I have my fears, as you can tell, but I also have eternal optimism ... just gotta get my wind back in my sails.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a guy on NPR (bastion of liberal media bias) who said how proud he was of America yesterday. Regardless of who we voted for, we voted--in droves. Democracy at its finest. Not a lot of apathy. I am sure that will come but for now, we can look at yesterday and say the great democratic experiment that began so long ago still works. That's it. I will stop humming "America The Beautiful" and put my Sam Adams down....


At 5:52 AM, Blogger Todd M said...

I am also very proud of how the country came out to vote. That said ... the Constitution I believe did not originally spell out "who" should be allowed to vote but instead talked about "Electors" which became the Electoral College. It has been largely left up to the states to determine who should be allowed to vote and then, in 1971, the 26th Amendment specified that those who are 18 or older should be allowed to vote. I am not sure where exactly I am going with this ... but the original Constitution I believe was written within the context of a society that is far different from what we know today. It was written from the context of a society more akin, I think, to what we see in Europe today where people tend to care more about politics and the issues and you find that the majority of the people have a better understanding of all things political than most of us (certainly myself foremost) do here in the states. I am not suggesting the voting age be raised (though the concept that you must be at least the age required to hold that office in order to vote for that office is intriguing) because it certainly would not be right to allow someone to fight and die for their country but not be able to vote. However, the idea of at least a basic citizenship test to show some understanding of the power and requirement of the offices before someone can vote is intriguing.

Don't beat me up on this ... I am not proposing anything ... just musing aloud for dialog's sake. I hate to say it but I think that a lot of people voted this week based upon rhetoric, and generalizations rather than on true knowledge of issues and the candidates.

No, I am not saying that no one who voted for Obama did so thoughtfully. I just really believe, though, that on both sides, many folks voted without much understanding.


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