I have a favorite phrase when it comes to the current crop of presidential candidates: vote for none of the above. To be honest, I am pessimistic about the candidates on both sides of the aisle. I bash all the candidates, Republican and Democrat, because I have yet to hear from them why they will bring the change that our nation so desperately needs. I don’t mean to insult or demean the candidates, but I want to challenge the conventional wisdom about them.
p. I hear Barack Obama fans espousing his vision for America, his desire to bring hope and enthusiasm, as if those themes were somehow visionary. The fact remains that Obama has been a U.S. Senator for three years. He may truly be the next JFK, but I have yet to hear anything groundbreaking that differentiates him from his Democratic peers. Nor have I seen a record of substantial legislative accomplishment that underscore his leadership capabilities.
p. Rudy Giuliani supporters point to his leadership after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. I hate to be a contrarian, but “America’s mayor” was so ignorant that he put the Emergency Response Team Headquarters in the World Trade Center although it had already been targeted by terrorists in 1993. What does that say about his judgment and ability to lead?
p. The advocates for Hillary Clinton talk about her experience and toughness, as if three more years in the Senate give her that much more experience than Obama. If her White House years gave her “experience,” then one could potentially argue that this would qualify Laura or Barbara Bush to take the helm of the federal government. Clinton has been, by all accounts, a terrific, moderate Senator, and that’s where she should stay. She is too polarizing to be effective as president and, at this point in time, the last thing we need is further presidential divisiveness.
Proponents of Mitt Romney talk about his business experience and four years as the governor of Massachusetts. However, he stated that he ran for Senator and governor on a pro-gay rights and pro-choice platform. Yet, suddenly, when running for president he shifted his “morals,” saying that he was pro-life and pro-traditional marriage all along. Was he playing politics then? Or is he playing politics now? If a candidate can’t express the strength of his convictions when running for public office, then he is not fit for leadership.
p. The FredHeads love to refer to Fred Thompson as “Southern-fried” Reagan. By all accounts, Thompson is a former Senator of ordinary accomplishment. Most sources have labeled him as unmotivated and noncommittal. His policy positions seem to be the amalgamation of core conservative issues and “values.” To me, he seems too perfect and too coordinated. It’s too good to be true. He needs to decide if he wants the responsibility of the most powerful elected position in the world. If not, then he could always be the president on the next season of “24.”
p. If you come away with anything from this column, let it be this: Sometimes politics is too important to be left to politicians. I stress “vote none of the above” because none of these candidates have done or said anything beyond petty partisanship and rhetorical one-liners. I don’t care what party you adhere to, because there is something much more vital — don’t take things at face value. The problems we face, including irresponsible foreign policy, ignorance of entitlement programs, budgetary deficits and inaction with regard to education, energy and climate change, will be the most challenging in our nation’s history. If these politicians can’t give us a detailed or even a straight answer on pressing issues, then we should not support them. We must ensure that today’s politicians actually pay attention to tomorrow’s problems or our nation will quickly be beyond repair.
p. __Joshua Barr is a junior at the College.__