At The Core Of It

Life does not have to be so complicated.  Simplicity can rule.

I have been reading a lot of post-election analyses of the hows and whys of its outcome.  My own take seemed to be more intuitive, kind of a gut reaction to events.  Maybe age and life experience played into my opinions, but above all, my trust in myself as a fair person, a curious person, opened the truth to me.

In this week’s “New Yorker” magazine, the staff did a phenomenal job of explaining all the broad sweeps and intricate minutiae of Campaign 2008.  First, read the article on Obama’s election success:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/17/081117fa_fact_lizza

Obama’s discipline and attention to long term goals comes shining through.  Although still a young man, Obama trusted himself.  He discovered and developed his political philosophies through his life experiences, both personal and political.  He knew he was on to something that would not only enrich his life, but also that could enrich the life of a faltering nation.  Obama had defined his CORE , and continued through many ups and downs to nurture it, communicate it and make it so.  Obama never lost sight of his center.

McCain, on the other hand, betrayed his core.  Please read:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/17/081117fa_fact_grann

McCain did have a history of honor and independence but traded it away for the chance to be elected President.  The saddest part of this was that he knew what he was sacrificing.  A few months ago at a Town Hall meeting when he responded to the lady who said that Obama could not be trusted because he was an Arab, McCain sincerely responded that “No, Obama was not an Arab and that he was a decent family man and would make a good President.”  That was the old McCain, the attractive McCain, the fair and honorable McCain rising to the occasion.  This honor, this dedication to the truth, spurted out of his mouth because it was the very essence of his being.  This had been McCain’s defining reason for living.  And that is precisely what he lost during the 2008 race.

Once your center fails you, it is a long road back.  Some may concede that it is an impossible task.  For a man who based his entire existence on honor and lived by that credo, McCain threw it all away.  The first hint was the Keating 5 scandal.  McCain’s actions were unquestionably suspicious on a moral plane, if not just outright wrong.  He had been tempted.  He realized that, and atoned in the following years by devising a plan for ethics and reform in campaign finance.  Okay:  he managed to save himself.

Then came this Presidential race.  McCain forfeited whatever honor he still had.  First, by attacking Obama personally with slurs about patriotism, domestic terrorism and his peripatetic upbringing, McCain got very close, on a more indirect level, to slamming Obama on a racial basis. He connoted that “different” was evil.

Secondly, McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate was a doubling down of the loss of his core.   McCain felt in his gut that Lieberman was the right choice.  I tend to agree with him on that issue.  However, his advisers talked him into something different and the result was a further deadening of his center.  Lieberman had every right to back a Republican;  I admire his independence in supporting who and what he believes in, regardless of party affiliation.  What does not sit well with me is the fact that after all is said and done, Lieberman wants to continue his caucusing with the Democrats and above all, keep his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

At any rate, McCain selected Palin and thereby agreed with his staff that she was a reformer and maverick just like himself.  No way.  She spoke to strong basic values and independence.  However, when a person does not have the facts and intellectual curiosity to back up that bravado, the whole scenario tends to disassemble.  All Palin had was a pretty face, a big mouth and unfettered, blinding ambition.  She did not differ from George W. in that regard:  Bush had a core, a faith in himself.  Unfortunately, his was a center of “blind faith”, with no history of or desire for the truth and hard work.  McCain succumbed to Palin’s empty bluster and his core, at that point, moved into negative territory.

Obama has proven his consistency.  On a personal level, when the news came that Palin’s 17 year old daughter was pregnant, he forcefully said that families, especially the children,  were off limits to campaign mud slinging.   Then he proceeded to live by that statement over the life of the campaign.  On a professional level, Obama introduced his policies and then, over a period of time, laid out the details succinctly.  He believed that Americans needed to know the details, thought they had a responsibility to become engaged in policy design, and did his honest best to make sure we had the information.

I trust this man.  Not only does he have an active and creative intellect, but his core is definitely intact.  Take, for example, his possible appointment of Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.  I am not thrilled with that choice because I have doubts about the Clintons (and I do mean Bill as well as Hillary) being able to push their own ambitions into the background.  However, so far, Obama has proven his ability to stay true to his core and his basic gut feelings.  I also think that he has the inner strength to control his own staff.  So I will support him in his choices.

Ultimately, life is simple.  One’s contribution to society and legacy is directly dependent on one’s maintenance of an inner core.  If a person forsakes his center, whether for personal gain or an easy way out, his self is lost.  No rationalization will suffice to save him.  In the eyes of his family, friends and professional colleagues, his effectiveness will be nil.  The most devastating aspect of this is that the person ends up with no respect or value for himself.

McCain threw away his very being.  Since he could no longer believe in himself, we could no longer believe in him either.  Obama lives another day thanks to his devotion to his inner beliefs.  Much hard work must follow, but I think we will be more than okay with a leader who values his honor, trusts his center and will hopefully, NEVER trade away his core values.

Let this be a lesson to us all.  Each of us is nothing if we give up our individual selves.  We must strive to develop our own inner person, live each day abiding by those principles, and never, EVER, trade away our centers for anything or anybody.  If you don’t have yourself, you have nothing.

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One Response to “At The Core Of It”

  1. sarahsouth Says:

    so refreshing to see some someone in politics take the high road, consistently resisting the pull to play dirty, and actually be successful

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