Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Next Hurdle

I have broken away from the rigors of my daily nine hours of class for a few moments of literary clarity. The news came out today that my choice for President of the United States has decided to call it quits. While there has been no official announcement, the inevitable folding of the Kucinich 2008 campaign is finally upon us.

I know what you're all saying, "Kucinich? Isn't he that little loon who's always whining about how his campaign doesn't get a fair shake?" Yeah, that's exactly who he is, although 'loon' is a bit hypocritical from someone talking to their computer screen. Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate who has any sort of moral cohesion to his campaign. He doesn't take money from special interests and he doesn't strategically change positions depending on the outcome of polls. He's committed to peace, community, and care for the poor; all of those things more than cover his belief in UFOs.

I did not, and still do not want this blog to be of a political nature; it's one of the reasons I've refrained to mention my favorite candidate until he's announced the end of his campaign (even though he could have used the PR). So I won't waste time extolling his plan to institute a Cabinet level Department of Peace, guaranteeing free education through college, and transforming the health care system into a non-profit entity.

I am going to use this space to mention and ruminate on an important observation of this campaign. I am overjoyed to see that the age-old prejudices of race and gender are crumbling in American politics. I don't pretend to think that these problems are not serious and ongoing, but it seems that finally, in politics, a qualified minority candidate can get a fare shake.

It may be time to move on to the next step in the egalitarianizing of the United States: appearance. Do you know the moment that Congressman Kucinich's long-shot campaign came to an end? It happened about nine months ago, before the first debate, when Saturday Night Live had him played by an extremely short woman. I don't begrudge Lorne Michaels and the gang this triviality. It was satirical, appropriate and quite humorous. I am more bemoaning the fact that all of those things are true in this country.

We've gotten to a point where the tone of one's pigment or the chromosomes of one's body no longer have a bearing on our opinion of them (on a broad scale). However, appearance is just as much a problem as it has always been. An interesting report came out last week on those internet candidate polls. People can work through a series of questions and answers which help them see which candidates best fit their beliefs on important election issues. The study found that the overwhelming majority of people who took the survey came up with Dennis Kucinich as their #1 match, though most continued to support whoever they supported prior to the survey.

Now Kucinich is merely an example here. We've known for a long time that our President has to be pretty. Exit polls for the last 25 years have shown that an alarming percentage of the population cast their vote for the "more attractive" candidate. We're a culture driven by visual stimuli. Time ran a story a few months back with findings that people were less likely to support candidates if they were balding or had gray hair. I don't propose a solution to this epidemic; I doubt one exists to be found. I just wish we'd stop patting ourselves on the back so hard about our ability to judge political candidates objectively. Barack Obama would not have the same support if he spoke as he does, but looked and dressed like Al Sharpton.

This is where Kucinich becomes a bad example. His policies and platform were idealistic at best and impossible at worst. He was never really taken seriously because he doesn't play within the normal rules of politics. But we need only look around us to see further evidence. The women in ancient period movies are always clean, hairless, and sporting impeccable skin despite the lack of American cultural mores, showers, and Neutrogena. If you want to stick to the political realm, we can do that too. Earlier this week Fred Thompson bowed out of the Republican race. Here was a man with little or no interest in running for President who wowed supporters for months with both his towering stature and powerful performance as a Manhattan District Attorney on Law and Order.

I'll climb back into my hole and my "unaffiliated"
(as they call independent voters in Kansas) existence and continue to wait for the other shoe to fall. I just hope that someday, most likely long after I'm gone, that society can reach the point of choosing leaders for reasons other than "they look the part."

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