Monday, October 6, 2008

"Average", "regular", "ordinary", and other things a President shouldn't be

By Chloe Angyal

Tonight I was checking the tour dates for my favourite country music singer (Tim McGraw, in case you’re wondering), when I came across a story about Toby Keith, the outspoken pro-Iraq country star who’s known for his jingoistic lyrics (“We’ll put a boot in your ass/It’s the American way”) and refusal to even speak about The Dixie Chicks after their criticism of President Bush in 2003.

Keith has recently registered as an independent, and while he claims that he has no intention of voting Republican in November, he predicts a sound victory for the McCain-Palin ticket. This is what he had to say about Republican VP nominee Governor Palin*:

“Palin's about the least political-looking, acting, resembling person that's ever run for office. You look at her: All the housewives are gonna love her. All the women in America can relate to everything she's done. She's real normal. Her kid is pregnant, she hunts, she snowmobiles, she's backwoods. I just think a lot of women are going to appreciate her and feel that they have to vote for her.”

Toby Keith believes that every woman in America can relate to Sarah Palin and to everything she’s done. Personally, I find it hard to relate to making women pay for their own rape kits, and I know I’m not alone there.

And I think what Keith means when he says “everything she’s done” he means “all the reproductive organs she has.” The fact that I’m of the same gender (or religion, race or ethnic group) as a candidate doesn’t guarantee that I’ll vote for him or her (and Governor Palin, I don't believe there's a "place in hell" reserved for me for holding that view). Because those things shouldn’t matter; what should matter, what makes someone qualified for a job this important, are abilities, policies, experience and knowledge. If someone is the least political-looking person to ever run for office, isn’t it possible that they’re also the least politically-suited person to ever run for office?

And in case Keith really meant what he said, and wasn’t assuming that women will vote for a woman on the basis of her sex, regardless of her qualifications or lack thereof:

Enough of this “real normal” crap. Unless you think you’re qualified to be Vice President (or President, for that matter), why this need to vote for someone who’s just like you? Shouldn’t we want our leaders to be extraordinary, instead of “average” and ordinary?
Why does it matter if you can relate to your President as long as he or she gets the job done and gets it done well?

A candidate can share your values and believe in the things you believe in without being your next door neighbour or the head of your local PTA. Your next door neighbours and the head of your local PTA – bless their hearts, as Sarah Palin might say – aren’t qualified to be Commander in Chief. Those people understand us and are people we can relate to because their perspectives are local and specific to our needs. But it takes more than simply sharing your values to make someone a good national leader. It takes knowledge, and a firm grasp of the issues, and above all, a worldview that’s larger than local.

Joe Sixpack, the guy you really don’t want running the country.

*Why do I care what country singer Toby Keith has to say about the election? Good question. It’s often claimed that country music is the music of the average person, of the average American, of the mythical “Joe Sixpack” Sarah Palin keeps talking about. If that’s the case, then the views of that genre’s most politically engaged singer are worth listening to. Ya dig?


At October 28, 2008 at 3:57 AM , Anonymous Stephanie said...

Jon Stewart knows where it's at:

(especially after about the 7:00 mark)


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