John Rogers eloquently explains something that needs a lot more attention:
[…] If we want our lives changed, if we want the world changed, we have to let go of that infantile need to assign such potent symbolic powers to our leaders. The bizarre hero-Daddy Bush worship that morphed into proxy-machismo for a lot of insecure Americans is what drove us down the off-ramp to a grand national K-hole in the first place. The struggle of Hillary Clinton is neither the struggle of feminism in America nor a inextricably tied to your own personal journey — it is her own, as an individual. In the same way, Senator Obama winning or losing the Presidency (independent of resultant policies, natch) will not in any significant material way change the lives of the majority of African-Americans, or those of his Millenial followers. We only derive from their struggles what value in our lives that we assign them. Senators Clinton and Obama are powerful symbols in addition to being generally admirable humans. But that can only go so far.
Senator Clinton is not your beautiful wife. Senator Obama is not your beautiful house. And Senator McCain sure as hell ain’t your fucking life. They are politicians. They’re human. They are not totems of platonic ideals duking it out on a psychic battlefield for the fate of the human race. They’re public servants applying for a job.
We treat our political leaders in a wildly confusing and inhumane way. We expect them to be Buddhas, beyond the enticement of mere mortal concerns, moral paragons, living saints. Then we want them to sit down and have a beer and shoot the shit, just like they were a coworker. Buddha does not drink your brand of beer. He sips chi out of the navel of cherubim and wipes his dainty lips on the shroud of Turin, removing stains with his fragrant kisses. Your coworker takes a shit when he gets home from work and admires the smell. Your coworker thinks Jim Carry is a pretty funny guy. Do you see the problem? While Uncle Walt* was right and we all contain multitudes, no one man or woman can contain such wild contradictions, because the idea of one man or woman standing up as a paragon of virtue is a god damn lie. And even if such a creature were plausible, we shouldn’t invest them with such power because, as Warren Ellis said, it invites the universe to fuck with you.
Looking for competent and not-insane politicians isn’t settling for second best, it’s your civic duty. We’re not nominating Jesus, we’re looking for a house keeper who can get the stains out of the carpet.† Because the last tenant shat in the sink and used the spare bedroom to breed ferrets. We’ll be lucky if the new guy can keep the place from being condemned.
If you have invested your candidate of choice with magical powers to right all past wrongs, then prepare to be seriously disappointed, forever. Because no one is going to solve your daddy issues or erase the stigma of racism or make all your feminist dreams come true. You don’t live in that universe.
* Whitman, not Disney. That Uncle Walt is part of the problem, building robot presidents whose bowels remain unmoved and only speak in canned platitudes.
† Also, I want a “Tripod/Lord Whiskerkins ’08” tee shirt like five minutes ago.