It’s appealing to have a leader that is ‘one of the folks,’ but that is one of those things that is better in concept than in practice.
The appeal is that the Average Joe or Jane can easily relate and understand him or her. The leader will presumably share the folks’ values and make decisions that they would approve of. Did we as a nation learn anything from two terms of George W. Bush? Apparently not, judging by Sarah Palin’s popularity despite her glaring deficiencies.* The problem is that Average Joe and Jane are not necessarily equipped to make the tough decisions that a leader needs to make. You want the election to be a referendum on values? Fine, but don’t complain with the subsequent poor decision-making – that’s part of the package too. The appeal is so seductive that we’ll definitely see this phenomenon again – maybe even every election.
I’m not saying to never choose ‘one of the folks;’ I’m saying that that shouldn’t be the most important factor. You are not choosing a buddy or spouse – you are choosing a leader. Shouldn’t leadership ability be the most important factor?
*As an aside, McCain basically measured out his own noose and hung himself. Being a maverick is refreshing, but there are limits. If he wanted a female VP, surely there were other Republican women who were also youngish and conservative but experienced? As for Palin, what was she thinking? Obviously not much. She should have been preparing well and earning people’s respect instead of crying about the ‘unfair’ media coverage. News flash: life isn’t fair. Didn’t we all get that idea at age three when we found out that the world didn’t revolve around us?
I’m also astounded at the meltdown of the Republican Party. This used to be a well-oiled machine. It will be interesting to see how their leaders recover from this one.