Sunday, September 07, 2008

Widening the Divide

I want to comment on this post by Hugh Hewitt. In the context of the current presidential election, the post deals with the question of experience and qualifications. Specifically, the question of Sarah Palin's experience and qualifications, and the value her tenure on the Wasilla City Council should be afforded in the discussion and debate on this question.

An excerpt:

The skills sets developed and honed in this setting though very real do not impress the Beltway bigs, and the Manhattan media elite has been choking back laughter since Governor Palin's selection was announced (and this though hardly any of them could read an oil lease much less review one). Every small town official and employee has got to hear this in the reporting and regardless of party, understand the contempt behind this coverage.

The elitism embedded in all of the attacks on Governor Palin is becoming more and more obvious and is itself beginning to add to the fuel behind the Palin breakout. The collision between elites and ordinary citizens is unfolding at a very rapid pace, and the spirit of reform and change isn't with the elites or their chosen candidate.

Note the language in Hewitt's post - there is no gray area, everything is black and white. If you do not agree with his position - that Palin's service on the City Council (and presumably, as governor of Alaska, though Hewitt does not address that in the post) is of great value - then you have to be an elitist, you can't be an ordinary citizen.

This kind of certainty in one's beliefs must be a wonderful thing. It must be a great experience to go through life, knowing that you are never wrong, knowing that each night you will sleep the sleep of the just. But in reality, this kind of certainty, which fuels not just Hewitt's blogs but others on both sides of the political spectrum (Andrew Sullivan, Michelle Malkin, Kos and his crew, the list could go on), is doing little to move the legitimate political debate forward in this country. It is only widening the divide, and increasing the likelihood that the "ordinary citizens" who Hewitt supposedly treasures are going to begin treating each other with more contempt, and less civility.

As for me, I'm not blessed with the ability to think that I'm right all of the time. I agonize over whether my beliefs are contradictory, and whether I'm making the right choice on issues. I see things in both candidates that I like, and things in both candidates that I don't care for. In the back of my mind, I always try to keep this phrase in mind: did it ever occur to you that you might be wrong?

On the issue of whether service on a City Council adequately prepares one to be the Vice President of the United States, I would say...maybe. I live in a town just a little larger than Wasilla, and we voted to incorporate in 2000. Seven individuals have served on the City Council since that time, and in my opinion at least four of them have proven (or proved) to be unable to meet the challenge of the office. None of them, I would argue, have gained anything relevant with respect to national experience while serving on the job. In Hewitt's world, that makes me an elitist. Well, screw that - as far as I'm concerned, I'm a realist - just trying to figure this thing out.

The bottom line is that there's no room for someone like me in the world of Hewitt, Malkin, Sullivan and Kos. And I suspect that there are more people like me than not.

1 comment:

MC said...

So questioning the fact that she was elected mayor of a small town with no debt and left it with 20 million dollars in debt, shifted the tax burden from the business owners in that town to the property owners and generally made a mess of things in terms of development make one an elitist?

Well, elite me up then.