Will Conformity Win in 2012?

By Tobin Hitt

Tobin Hitt

Here’s a new standard for deciding whom to vote for in the 2012 Presidential race. It comes from Austin Buetner, who is running for the Mayor of LA. His qualification, recently stated, is simply: “I don’t need the job.”

Yes, exactly.

When did our politicians become so needy? I don’t know whether I’m watching a Presidential campaign or Oprah reruns. The present leading contenders from both parties seem to emote a need for a mulligan, or a third or fourth chance, or a collective ‘atta boy.’ Or, an unlikely personality makeover.

To put it another way, given the spirit of the day and the season, they seem to have borrowed too much of our credibility.

With the Iowa Caucuses less than a week away (please Iowa ask God how he wants you to vote), we are in no mood for such goofiness.

It’s not as if we the dissatisfied values voter have a new-found expectation of political temperance. It’s that we simply realize in our collective gut, in our national spirit if you will, that this ’12 Presidential election really does matter, and that any good decisions made after it, are likely to require something beyond the present political conformity that defines the campaign to date.

It would be comical, but for the fact that the stakes are so high.

I don’t exactly know where we the voters should turn. To a third-party, and  a likely losing effort? To an old hand from either party?

Have you ever heard of Sinclair Lewis? He comes to mind in regards to the 2012 election.

He was one of Amercia’s greatest authors throughout the 1920’s ans 30’s. His cynicism protected a real americana hope. His most famous characters are Elmer Gantry and George F. Babbit (the superficial church huckster, and the superficial businessman huckster respectively) who like all his characters have their endearing human qualities. Yet they can’t seem to break out of their superficiality and hapless conformity.

As far as the ’12 Presidential race goes, it presently sounds a lot like Lewis’ George F. Babbitt breezily trying to close a real estate deal by way of a dictated letter to a potential buyer’s lawyer.

“Dear Mr. Gribble:

Your letter of the twentieth to hand. I must say I’m awfully afraid that if we go on shilly-shallying like this we’ll just naturally lose the Allen sale. I had Allen on the carpet day before yesterday, and got right down to cases. All my experience suggests that he means to do business. I have also looked into his financial record, which is fine.

He is perfectly willing to pro-rate the Special Assessment and there will be no difficulty in getting him to pay for title insurance.

So let’s go!

Yours sincerely,” [Penquin, 1922, p. 31].

The ’12 leading Presidential candidates are all saying “So let’s go!”

Well not so fast compadre.

I’m thinking we need a “Booster Plus” President this time, one who is not only against all shilly-shallying, like all our beloved candidates, but who might also have the character to tell us from time about some things that don’t flatter us, that don’t have anything to do with his or her needs or our needs, but are only about the best interests of the country. This might allow us to break out of our present political conformity, and also speak to our collective gut feeling that politics as usual isn’t going to cut it in 2012.

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