Monday, September 8, 2008

Thinking Outside the Big Box

William Kristol gives it up for Sarah Palin.

McCain didn’t just pick a politician who could appeal to Wal-Mart Moms. He picked a Wal-Mart Mom. Indeed, he picked someone who, in 1999, as Wasilla mayor, presided over a wedding of two Wal-Mart associates at the local Wal-Mart. “It was so sweet,” said Palin, according to The Anchorage Daily News. “It was so Wasilla.”

A Wasilla Wal-Mart Mom a heartbeat away? I suspect most voters will say, No problem. And some — perhaps a decisive number — will say, It’s about time.

When you think about it, it’s really ironic that Mr. Kristol, who is the embodiment of the upper crust elitism with his prep school manners and Ivy League education, would think that it’s about time to turn the country over to someone who, if it were the Democrats who were running her, he would sneer at. I’m willing to bet that Mr. Kristol has never shopped at Wal-Mart or would deign to hang out with people that do.

Now before you accuse me of being an elitist, let me say right off that I have shopped at Wal-Mart, and the shoes I’m wearing right now were purchased at the Wal-Mart in Independence, Kansas. You can’t get much more middle America than that. And before I moved to Miami, there was a Wal-Mart about a mile from my house and it was a regular stop on my weekend errands. So I have nothing against the Wal-Mart moms. But that’s not the issue. I suspect that if you ask the average Wal-Mart mom if they thought they were capable and ready to step into the vice-presidency, most of them would laugh hysterically. And I’ll bet that if you asked them if they wanted someone like them to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, they’d say No.

I’m old enough to remember that when America was looking for its next president, it wasn’t looking for the guy — or the woman — next door. They weren’t looking for someone who was just like them or someone they’d want to have a beer with. We wanted someone who was smarter than us, perhaps even a tad elitist if that meant that they were aware of their abilities and knew how to use them. After all, that’s the point of representative democracy: we choose people to represent us in Congress and the government because we can’t all be there, but we also choose them because we hope that they represent the better angels of our nature and that they look out for more than just our colloquial interests. We want people who are more than just capable. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting someone in office who understands the problems of the Wal-Mart moms, we should also want someone who can think outside the Big Box.