The distinct advantage of being a registered Independent is the relative freedom one enjoys in being able to stay above the petty partisan fray, and the unimpeded ease with which to survey the entire field of candidates unhampered by any partisan commitment. Nothing beats being an Independent over being a partisan, whichever side it may be including in those pesky minor parties.
Thus, when this election cycle started to churn early since who knows when, l literally played the field like a reluctant but discriminating debutante, with only one restrictive caveat. Regardless of the outcome, I was not going to vote for Sen. Clinton. Having insufferably wriggled through the eight years of Bill Clinton and including the intervening years leading to this, my personal disillusionment and disdain for them are still haunting me, so no member of that Clinton family will get my vote.
As reported earlier during the much-ballyhooed Super Tuesday, I detachedly enjoyed the electoral process voting only on the ballot initiatives applicable to our city and county. It felt so good and serene going through the motion. No knotty hand wringing on whether this or that candidate would be the better alternative, no second thoughts whatsoever, just enjoying the nice summery morning of that Tuesday.
But this seeming nonchalant impartiality did not prevent me from carefully, and with serious purpose, sweating over which candidate in my personal judgment should be the next president of this great nation, given the unusually multitudinous and varied challenges that will be faced by a new incumbent, both domestically and globally. In a perfect world, it would have to be somebody with extensive critical and useful experiences in public service, or absent that, verifiable critical experiences in the private sector in capacities where high leadership skills are tried and tested, and performance measures are results-oriented.
Running through the Republicans’ slate of potentials, Romney was my early favorite, easily qualifying in my own personal base minimum qualities for the next president. Accomplished in business and government, he exuded a demeanor of quiet confidence and subdued pride. And as bonus, he presented a very likeable and admirable external persona – articulate and eloquent speaker and likable overall demeanor. A nice fit for the presidency. And add to that the fact that for me he was not your typical politician, long on bluster, quick and easy high-minded but hollow talk, and does not come across as a public servant but some authority figure who rules based on their own intractable points of view. Romney in my opinion did not personify that image. His being steeped in spirituality because of his Mormonism may have had some influence on this. Even his many kids exuded that same bent.
Unfortunately, not enough people thought similarly as me, so he had to bow out early from the race. And this he did with grace, a sense of purpose, and dignity, and for this I added more points in his favor. Maybe next time, Guv.
I too looked over the initial lengthy list of Democratic candidates, skirting aside the early front-runner. Obama then seemed the least likely suitable candidate – young, untried, and inexperienced. He gained prominence only in the 2004 Senatorial race besting a last-minute Republican filler. He was early on dismissed as an “empty suit” but very articulate, eloquent, oratorical, and his speeches high up there among illustrious pieces in the world of semantics and polemics.
So from that initial lengthy list, I focused instead on Gov. Bill Richardson, who came across as no rabid and flighty ideologue and equipped with good credentials and varied experiences, both domestic and international. His being Hispanic also unduly ingratiated him to me. But he never did become a 1st tier candidate, easily outstripped and outran by the likes of suave but too-stilted J. Edwards and a fast rising Obama. The rest of that field was very forgettable, ranging from some being too fringe to those being too much of a political haymaker quick and good with political rhetoric and nothing much behind it.
As the campaigns ground, the chaff was slowly being sorted out by the potential voters, edged out of the contest and eventually dropped by the wayside. As the electorate, we ended up with narrower choices on both sides.
Thus, on the Democratic side, since I had from the get-go eliminated Clinton, I now have to hitch my wagon with Obama as his party’s nominee. Obama is not only a fitting candidate, but can also be formidable given his native talents at oratory and his unique physical looks and origins. He definitely could make a good president. Except, not now. He needs more years to hone his skills and maturity at governance, since so little is known about him and how he will respond to a host of uniquely demanding and globally impacting situations and problems. Additionally, the added years hopefully should also help to dull somewhat the youthful over-confidence and unlikable arrogance being displayed by him and his elated campaign, including his well-schooled wife. There is a sense that they would like to present themselves as messianic in their quest of the office, like only they can bring the people to the Promised Land. And in the process, there is also that humdinger of an implied claim that the country is doing so badly in most respects, that it desperately needs their extraordinary skills and powers to bring about change, and at this stage, simply change for the sake of change. Thus, please Sen. Obama, tread back to the drawing board and recalibrate some of your messages and attitudes. And over time show us your presidential caliber and legislative mettle at your important work in the august Senate.
Truly Obama is a very inspiring youthful public persona. Thus understandably many impressionable folks, young and old, longing for some form of quick deliverance, identify with his noble and almost holy messages. But governance should be more than just adulation for a gifted messenger. That messenger should also come across as one speaking with authority. For this it is required that one possesses the crusty but solid hindsight of an older statesman, with uncanny abilities to exploit from his trove of experiences for use in his governance. And it does not just mean older in years, but older age with respect to the amount of cumulative experiences collected under one’s belt.
Now on the other side, given the lop-sided contest as it now stands, McCain has become the unannounced presumptive nominee, whether Republicans, Independents, conservatives, and every body in between like it or not. To me then, there is only one choice, though not necessary the best ideal choice. It is the only choice. Third party candidate, anyone? After the money-driven Ross Perot historic letdown, who would dare?
So Sen. McCain it is. Congratulations, Mr. President. May you listen attentively to the people for guidance and ease up on your partisan ideologies, whichever side they may belong to.