Electing Gods - or the problem with putting US presidents on impossible pedestals.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 20, 2010 3:26 PM GMT
    I've noticed this difference between Canadian political and US political discussions.

    Why are US presidents of all stripes expected to be divine deities?

    curious, -Doug
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jul 20, 2010 4:01 PM GMT
    That's a very good question. Years ago, I was working with several European teams; when the Clinton/Lawinski scandal broke, their reaction was "So what? You elected him to do a job - is he doing it? What does his private life matter?"

    Maybe if we had a king/queen to worship, and a prime minister to get mad at? icon_smile.gif

    But seriously, it seems to me that the conservative psychology is to want authority and a father-figure, and that the larger amount of "disillusionment" with presidents comes from the right, not the left; and that when a conservative president is elected, the urge from conservatives is not to question, but almost to worship... This will of course land me in endless trouble!

    Frankly, if I look for a doctor, or a mechanic, I want one who knows his job, not one who wants to ban disease, or thinks Jesus doesn't like bad motors - and his private life is of no concern to me. Guess I'm weird...

    Nat
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    Jul 20, 2010 4:09 PM GMT
    Hey NAT!! *wide grin at seeing a great RJ guy so geographically close to us*

    We're the same way. If our dentist has a harem or enjoys a personal life that's exotic and it makes him happy, we're happy because then he's likely to do a good job. icon_wink.gif
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    Jul 20, 2010 4:12 PM GMT
    meninlove said I've noticed this difference between Canadian political and US political discussions.

    Why are US presidents of all stripes expected to be divine deities?

    curious, -Doug

    Wonderful observation. Perhaps because the US President is both the Chief Executive and the Head of State, comparable to a monarch in other countries.

    Plus we've deified previous Presidents, like Washington, after whom our Capitol City is named, and Lincoln, seated in his monument. There is also a monument there for Jefferson, another President. And Presidents are portrayed on our coins and bills. When a US President steps into those shoes, some of that aura is attached.

    So you are correct. US Presidents indeed become divine, and immortalized for the ages. Why do you think politicians fight so fiercely for the job? They hope they will live forever in history.
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    Jul 20, 2010 4:36 PM GMT
    Its because of the puritan value voters AKA, The Religious Right wing.

    This is the same reason why anyone who is not a Christian (or catholic) has a very hard time breaking into politics in this nation.
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    Jul 20, 2010 5:08 PM GMT
    Interesting observation. I think this is in great part because of the history of the country- from the high ideals of Enlightenment, to Manifest Destiny, great migrations, end of slavery, and the struggles and victories against fascism and communism, Americans have a a very strong sense of American Greatness and Exceptionalism.

    Because Americans are one of the most fiercely patriotic people, a successful politician must pander to the idea that America is great and exceptional (which I believe it is, vitality of democracy and technological virtuosity to name a few reasons why). But to gratify this desire, leaders talk in such language that perpetuates "greatness" as an American birthright.

    So no wonder, when we elect leaders, it is as if with divine imprimatur
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    Jul 21, 2010 5:22 PM GMT
    I don't think many people, including the politicians themselves, understand the limits of the office or the limits of reality. This is why Obama has continued many Bush policies despite promises to end them. He's making the same choices Bush did because he is finding that they were the only realistic choice. Obama's successor, no matter which party, will discover the same with many of Obama's policies.

    The politicians themselves feed into this. Try to think of one presidential candidate of any party who doesn't promise the Moon. It's a trap: you can't win without unrealistic promises, but then if you win you can't keep those promises.