Today The Guardian posted an editorial that pretty much summed up my fears. We used to pick leaders we saw as educated and wise. We used to prize expertise and thoughtfulness. We were a nation that lead the world in science, business, art, and culture. We looked for leaders who could hold their own with the best of the best.
Now it is all about who you want to have a beer with. I hang out at the local bar plenty. Trust me when I question “good drinking buddy” as among the qualifications that George Washington had in mind. But as Jonathon Freedland points out, America doesn’t trust smart people anymore. In current polls, it seems that being smart or popular abroad is more a liability than an asset.
I understand. The world has gotten very complicated very quickly. You can hardly keep up with every new country anymore, so people forgive McCain when he thinks that Iraq and Pakistan have a common border (Hint: they don’t). People think it is elitist snobbery when Russia laughs at McCain for calling Putin the president of Germany. (Hint: he is the Prime Minister of Russia. Germany’s Chancellor is a woman named Angela Merkel).
With so much news instantly available on the Internet, TV news has become more about talking heads, scandal, and entertainment. So much information is available and I think people are just overloaded. It isn’t enough to tune into the 6 o’clock news or to read the daily paper. It isn’t simple narratives of USA vs. USSR. Most people tune out all the details and look for easier answers with definitive black and white statements.
We have become a nation that almost takes pride in being “know nothings”. You can’t trust smart people, and you certainly don’t want to be seen as one. We are acting like a nation of 8th graders? (I can’t wait until we pull China’s hair to show that we like her!)
While you can finger one party over the other, both seem to understand the true consequences. An official US intelligence report warns whoever becomes the next President to prepared for a US that is less important than the one today.””The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished…”
I hope we can stop electing for drinking buddies, and start demanding real government.