I think this election is particularly interesting because it illustrates the fundamental breakdown of individualism vs. community, immediate satisfaction vs. long term satisfaction, and church vs. state, among other things. I found it to be a very Epicurean campaign. Epicurus, for those of you who do not want to read a biography of Epicurus, was a Greek philosopher who was interested in immediate gratification vs. long term gratification. He was also one of the first people who spoke of the world in terms of atoms — I think he may have even coined that term, I can’t remember. He might’ve just said particles, who knows. Crazy Greeks.
Anyway, Epicurus argued that long term satisfaction was ultimately more worthwhile than immediate satisfaction. I won’t go into why he believed that, just that he did, though I’m sure you could make your case for both sides.
My point is, McCain and Obama personified these two arguments, and furthermore, personified the separation between the idea of the individual and the community. McCain was a “maverick.” He went against the grain. He stood apart. He was, in essence, a strong individualist. Conservatives liked him because conservatives want immediate gratification, in this case, the immediate gratification of status quo — that things remain the way they are. Change is bad to conservatives because it makes them think about issues and maybe even do research on things. So they lauded McCain and Palin because they made sure that the conservatives didn’t have to think. Instead, (mis)information was poured down their throats, like Nyquil, soothing and medical and completely bad for you. Most of this misinformation was not about what they would do as President and Vice-President, but rather what terrible things Obama would do if he were President. And so every conservative friend I have, instead of being knowledgeable about pertinent issues that demand our attention, knew only that Obama was “communicating with terrorists,” or was secrely Muslim, or was being influenced by a crazy Reverend from his church. Nothing about what McCain would do with his presidency, were he to get it. Only spin and negative campaigning.
Obama, on the other hand, wholly and completely represented the community of America. He embraced all people, even those who were McCain supporters. He promised change, but did not promise it immediately. He acknowledged that it would take time, and that we Americans would have to work just as hard as he does to permit this change to occur. He promised long term satisfaction. He did not speak in terms of I, Me, Myself, but in terms of We, You, Us. He did not want to distance himself from his community. He wants to be a part of it.
This, my misguided Republican friends, is what it means to be a president. The Founding Fathers have their names thrown around like rag dolls of nomenclature, but if there is one thing that we can all agree on regarding them, it’s that they fought for the independence of this country because they did not like the tyranny of monarchy. They did not appreciate King George III muddling in their affairs. And when they assembled in the Continental Congress to create the Constitution of the United States of America, they constructed provisions so that no branch of the government was more or less powerful than the other. To them, the presidency was just another cog in the machine. It wasn’t the cog.
John McCain and George W Bush want nothing more than to stand at the top of the heap. To be king. Or emperor, in Bush’s case. They want to lord over people. Obama doesn’t want that. He only wants to help. He wants to heal an ailing country.
He’s eloquent, he’s humble, he’s gracious, kind, courteous and benevolent. And now he’s our president.
And that’s the end of that.