I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is reprinted from the 12/10/11 edition with permission.
WE NEED IDEAS, NOT BOY SCOUTS
A man sits at a window, then takes out a sheet of paper and begins to scribble some notes and doodles a couple of graphs. The title at the top of the page reads “Homelessness Solutions.” He completes his thoughts, then sets that sheet of paper on a stack of other papers with titles like “Budget Fix” and “Social Security Saved.” He gently binds them all together, puts them into a manila envelope and mails them to his Congressman in Washington. The envelope is received, and opened by a volunteer and then is thrown into a pile with dozens of other manilla envelopes containing letters with phrases like “End for Hunger” and “Peace in the Middle East.” The Congressman will never see them because he is currently holding a press conference to defend a recent report that he was sexually involved with his secretary five years ago – which came as a bit of a shock to his wife of 10 years. That press conference will be carried around the world by major networks.
You’ll never see a press conference about the man who wrote the letter. You’ll never see his quirky campaign commercial outlining his ideas. You’ll never have a bumper sticker with his name on it, or a button for your lapel. You’ll never even hear about this man, because he is in a wheelchair. This makes him ineligible, by today’s standards, to participate as a representative in our government. He joins a field of non-candidates that include those who have been convicted of a crime, have ever taken drugs in their life; those who haven’t been faithful to their spouses; those who are gay and those who have ever lied on their taxes. That’s just the stuff we know about.
You hear it in every campaign ad, which will be flooding our radios, TV’s and newspapers for the next year. “The Government is broken.” <Insert Your Candidate’s Name Here> Is the right message to send Washington.
That is, until, someone digs something up about him or her. That one time at the Christmas party where he smooched his secretary. Or that time she got pulled over with that dime bag. Bye bye candidacy. Most importantly, bye bye ideas.
We need to begin accepting that people are imperfect. People make mistakes all the time. I’ve made six just while typing this article. Does one mistake (or even many mistakes) by someone wanting to serve their country invalidate any ideas they might bring to the table?
Are we too busy looking for the perfect Boy Scout and have tossed aside thousands of Cub Scouts or Brownies? The latest casualty seems to be Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, who allegedly had some wandering hands – so we should completely discount his theories on economic policy. Add him as the latest in a list that includes John Edwards, Rudy Guiliani, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. And those are the ones just kicked out of Presidential elections by the public.
Sure, character does matter, and to some degree, appearance matters. It matters a great deal to many. You don’t want somebody hopped up on drugs with access to State secrets, or someone to die in office because of a medical condition. But does that discount their ideas completely? There’s been some pretty great Rock ‘N Roll made by druggies and the like. We all seem to keep buying their music. Can’t the same go for politics?
It is commonly assumed that a polio-stricken Franklin Roosevelt could have never achieved the presidency in the age of television. What would’ve happened to Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan in the age of the Internet and Citizen Media?
With the dawn of the Blog and Twitter age, I think this might be a good time to start listening to people’s ideas and just assume everybody has a skeleton in their closet. Start with the idea they bring to the table and work backwards from there. Maybe more things would get fixed instead of us starting with trying to blow each other up digging up dirt.
It just seems to me that we need to focus more on the ideas and solutions these people have to problems and less on their own personal demons. Maybe that’s terribly idealistic, but how has the old way worked for us so far?
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)