We’ve gotten so caught up in the horse-race aspect of campaigning that we forget that politicians also have a responsibility to educate people. To say ahead of time that you have to indulge prejudices or ignorance in the electorate in order to win not only shows a lack of confidence in the idea that minds can change over time, it’s also an abdication of a true leader’s responsibility. If the people will only elect a candidate who endorses wrong-headed positions, a true leader has to show them why they’re wrong and make them change their vote. That’s why we call them leaders. A politician who panders is not a leader. He’s a follower.
That’s what I hate most about American politics. Take a guy like John Kerry. He’s sat in high-level committee meetings for 20 years or whatever, met world leaders, been briefed by intelligence operatives, etc. He knows all this stuff, yet during the course of the campaign he didn’t tell us one goddamn thing we didn’t know already. He put his hands over his heart and talked about how weepy he gets when he sees the flag. What a crock of shit. At least Bill Clinton – who I’m not always a fan of, by the way – at least Clinton in his speech at the Kerry convention went out of his way to explain to voters how racking up debt to China and Saudia Arabia affected national policy. He used his position to teach us something. But in general… we’re supposed to look up to these guys, but all they do is try to jack us off.