Thursday, November 29, 2007

What really counts

I was reading a blog entry recently about the Presidential election. The writer posited the notion that what really counts in assessing candidates is not experience but character. He then listed various presidents and rated them successes or failures and noted how character played a part in those successes and failures.

I'd like to agree with him. I'd like to believe that what is most important is what is in a person's heart and mind and how they live that out. But I don't think that I do agree. I can think of many people of fine character who would not make good presidents. Jimmy Carter was/is a man of impeccable character. In his years after the presidency, he has demonstrated that again and again (Habitat, continued work for peace in the Middle East, to name a few places).

But he wasn't much to write home about as the leader of the free world. He accomplished little in his four years. He was perceived as a failure in arenas in which he was actually successful, such as ultimately bringing home those kidnapped in Iran
alive. In fact, I think his inability to manage the Iran Hostage Crisis, to persuade the US that peaceful means were the best option for bringing the hostages home alive, demonstrates much of what was wrong with his administration. They didn't play the game very well.

Maybe character would be a be-all-and-end-all if government wasn't political, wasn't a game that must be played. But it is. And, while I hope the candidates of my choice do have fine upstanding characters and do share my values, that's not what I'm assessing to guide my decisions.

John Edwards is my candidate for President in the Democratic primaries. I feel almost sheepish saying so. As an Oak Park Democrat, I'm sure I'm supposed to be voting for Obama. And I did support him, at first. But I've found him to be a bit milquetoasty. The message of hope is a fragile strand on which to swing my heavy hopes and dreams for this next administration.

John Edwards is emphasizing the domestic issues I feel are most important: universal health care, economic fairplay for the poor and middle class, and supporting workers. He is emphasizing these issues instead of focusing on the power ploys playing out in the Middle East. I don't believe he would be an isolationist President. But I believe he would focus on righting our own wrongs before he runs off and tries to right someone else's wrongs.

The blog to which I referred earlier lauded Edwards for his character, as demonstrated by these domestic emphases and in part due to the loss of his son. Maybe character can be tied that closely to a political agenda. But I don't necessarily think so. We've had plenty of presidents who had fine agendas yet possessed characters less shining (JFK, FDR, to name a few).

And I don't even agree with a major decision that I'm sure is supposed to demonstrate sacrificial character: the collective decision of Elizabeth and John Edwards to run for President while knowing Elizabeth has a terminal illness. My opinion, had they asked, is that those little munchkins of theirs deserve to have a mom around who is focused on them more than anyone possibly can be on the campaign trail, since she's not going to be around for all that long, in all likelihood.

But they didn't ask me. And whatever character they are, or aren't, demonstrating in making that decision has little to do with why I would, or wouldn't, vote for them. Him. I care about the domestic decisions that John Edwards would make that would affect my country, not his family. And I think he'd make the right ones.

Vote for John Edwards. And give him a little bit of money, if you've got any lying around. Because he's going to need it to get any farther than Iowa.



Blogger Suna said...

Oddly enough, over Thanksgiving, Lee, his 84-yr-old dad and I all realized that we sheepishly agreed on John Edwards, too. For similar reasons. I feel guilty for not being for Hilary, since she's a female and all, but the war thing means this here pacifist can't vote for the only candidate she's ever met personally (back in Illinois when I was involved in politics).

I agree with you on the deicsion to run issue, too. So, that makes two of us.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Liz T-G said...

Yes, I didn't much address the war issue. Clinton is hawkish, which is definitely not my bent. As to the decision to run thing. I think I was very much in the minority on fmah to feel that way. Ah well, nice to know someone I admire agrees with me. :-)

8:48 AM  
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2:11 PM  

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