Aunt Helen was a piece of work. The youngest of the yours/mine/ours family of Mr. Jim Polk and Miss Fannie Arnold, she was the darling of the family.
A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a card-totin’ REAL Daughter in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Aunt Helen took Georgia loyalism to a fault. She sometimes demonstrated less-than-objective judgment when an issue arose and a Georgian was in the fray.
Take, for example, Jimmy Carter’s 1976 bid for the White House. Aunt Helen was so proud that a Georgian was running for the Presidency of the United States that she was blind to the fact that Mr. Carter did not possess the comprehensive skills to be an effective leader. She proudly voted for this man because he was a Georgian. His election proved to be a referendum against anything Nixon and Republican, not for Jimmy Carter. The voting public tends to go to the ballot box to take out their frustrations with an administration. They don’t take into consideration that the replacement could be worse than what they already have.
An accomplished humanitarian, Mr. Carter proved adept at brokering treaties and bringing adversaries to the bargaining table, but never would admit that administering the business of the United States of America was quite different to that of a peanut farming concern in South Georgia. As a result, we faced skyrocketing unemployment, unparalleled inflation, and multiple industries sending their jobs and their business overseas so they could afford to continue to do business in the US. His legacy has been, at best, questionable as his presidency bears the distinction of being considered the worst in modern US history if not of all time.
My friend Myles Godfrey, an astute political observer and Great American, has never been known to pull punches with his opinions. I appreciate this. We have way too much homogenization attempted today as we try to make everyone the same when we definitely are not. Some differences define and distinguish leaders, while others define and condemn the charlatan attempting to be something they are not. According to Myles, our sitting President falls into the latter category.
To illustrate, Myles sent this little nugget to me:
"In the realm of presidential politics, Obama has done for blacks what Jimmy Carter did for South Georgia peanut farmers: It will be a cold day in hell before another one gets elected. – Myles Godfrey"
It would be a travesty if the electorate were so short-sighted as to believe Barack Obama’s race has anything to do with what will arguably become the worst Presidency in the history of the United States of America. But Myles’ statement made me consider the impact our actions have on those who share what are considered our most prominent attribute(s).
Like Jimmy Carter, Mr. Obama’s qualifications to serve as President of the United States were not the issue for those who elected him; Mr. Obama was elected because he was not George Bush, he was not a member of the Republican Party, he would become the first African-American elected to the highest office in the land, and he said what people wanted to hear.
Never mind that he has to deal with a whole bunch of people who have to be of like mind in order to get anything done. Never mind that Mr. Obama is a product of a political machine that has strong armed its way into power for generations, but that has proven ineffective outside of his home city and state. Never mind that Mr. Obama is a world class campaigner who, for all the advertising, has demonstrated he has very little to sell. I’ve lost count of all the initiatives and programs he’s announced that are going to be very expensive for us as a people.
That Barack Obama is a black American or Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer from Georgia had everything to do with why they were elected, but nothing to do with their inabilities to be effective leaders. People voted for promises of a better tomorrow courtesy of the US government, not the realities of personal responsibility.
No doubt we need candidates who know how to lead, but, with all due respect to Aunt Helen, “better voters” tops my list.
Helen Person is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.