Walter Bagehot, the English editor and scientist, did a study of what makes society weak or strong. He said a nation is as strong as the people it emulates. In other words, if America values the right people, the country will continue to improve.
Luckily we have Barack Obama, who may not be a great president, but who has wonderful qualities and values. He deserves respect just for who he is.
But let’s also take Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi as examples of people who are prominent in our society. Palin is someone who knows foreign affairs because she can see Russia from Alaska. When asked to name an important book that had influenced her outlook, she went blank. Sometimes I think there is nothing in her brain at all, but that’s not quite fair. She has political cunning and can influence republican primaries. Conservatives really like her because she is cute and carries all the same prejudices they do. If she is who we emulate, then let’s start burning books like Catcher in the Rye and Harry Potter (because witches should be held under water to test their witchhood). No one should underestimate her political instincts and ability to influence the Republican Party. My goodness, gracious, she’s a pistol. It’s too bad Annie Oakley died before she could see her spitting image.
Then we have a person who is elected by a small ultra-liberal group in San Francisco. The chance that her constituents represent a cross section of America is as likely as George Bush being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. I know a lot of Democrats who despise her (they tend to be centrists) and her ranking in the eyes of the American people is pretty low. There are some democrats who are subtly deriding her when running in tough districts. Nancy Pelosi is a lot smarter than Sarah Palin, but people cheer for Palin.
We’ve never been so divided a nation since 1860 or 1939, and both of them are responsible for the distance between Americans. They stand for partisan stupidity, which is preventing America from getting together to fix our many problems. If we keep asking the little we do of our students, we’ll end up as a suburb of Beijing.
Today someone asked if I could live with Sarah Palin beating Obama in a general election, I got a queasy stomach and thought about Jefferson, Monroe and Madison. I think we would be the laughing stock of the world, especially after she called Queen Elizabeth “queeny.”