The Leaders We Choose

Jedediah Bila

By Jedediah Bila

One of the biggest complaints Americans have about our elected officials is that they lack authenticity. The current administration’s hope and change promises and transparency talk didn’t quite hold up when the tax cheats, backroom deals, and a bundle of former Clinton appointees rolled in with the “yes we can” posse.

But it’s important for us to remember that we give our elected officials the power they have. They hold the positions they do because we’ve put them there, plain and simple. So, when the inauthentic are chosen to lead, what does it say about us?

Think about American culture for a moment. We’ve somehow – as a society – come to revere the fake. Plastic surgery, phony spray tans, clip-on hair extensions, lip-syncing musicians, sugar substitutes. Even our reality TV is scripted and rehearsed. There’s something inside so many of us that has come to delight in what looks good, what sounds good, what tastes good – even if there’s nothing natural or sincere about it. So, why does it surprise us when we elect politicians whose pretty words, suave gestures, and fancy presentations are the garnish on empty plates?

It shouldn’t.

I remember being fourteen years old and falling in love with Jay Gatsby in the film The Great Gatsby. There was just something about Jay – his charm, his gaze, his perfect imperfections. I even remember telling a friend, “It doesn’t matter what you’re saying when it sounds that good.”

Well, guess what? It does matter.

There may be no harm in Splenda with your morning coffee. Or a clip-on hair piece that gives you that extra bump in the crown. Or even a few mindless hours of watching reruns of MTV’s The Hills, despite the fact that you know a team of writers, set designers, and casting directors just fed you a “reality” that’s more Warner Brothers than average American afternoon.

But it’s imperative that at the end of the day, we’re still able to decipher the real from the sham, to separate what seems like music to our ears from the reality of what’s actually being said. And that we never lose an appreciation for the genuine, which may not always sound as tailor-made as its crafty counterpart.

That goes for our politics as well.

Polished and avant-garde shouldn’t automatically equal presidential. Honesty should. Integrity should. And we – as a society – should make it our job to tear off those spiffy exteriors and find out what’s underneath before we pledge allegiance to anyone or anything.

At the end of the day, it is our values and our priorities that are reflected in the leaders we choose.

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Jim Sleter
12 years ago

Perhaps it is time that “we the people” begin to push “our” government for reforms that WE want.
Once a person is in office we have little recourse until election time comes around again. Maybe it’s time to add accountability to the mix.

ron jossendal
12 years ago

I hope this country has learned a lesson I just hope it isn’t to late!

Don Langlois
12 years ago

Very well said. It is encouraging to read wise words from one so young. It gives hope for the future.

George Michaud
12 years ago

It’s obvious to me by the questions I get from other voters asking “who is that”? “where is she or he from:”? Education is the answer. Voters must and need to be educated before going to the polling booth to place that vote. Too many really believe that their vote doesn’t count. We should have learned from the last two major elections that one vote does count and it counts a whole lot. If a vote is going to go and vote someone into office that they don’t really know what is the sense in bothering to go and vote? The answer; Get educated, read about your candidates, read about the issues, get involved in your country that you say you love.

David Azinger
12 years ago

A phony culture gets phony leadership. The phoniest culture within is probably CA. And the politicians there are the phoniest of phonies. .
Meg Whitman is a phony. So, is Feinstein and Boxer. Their Gov. is an “actor”. Their budget can’t meet all their phony demands. And this state has 50 or more seats in Congress, and that aint a phony number. That is a “real” problem in my opinion. And most of the money we spend is phony (not our own). And the whole U.S. citizenry is engaged in consumer debt which is what? Plastic ??? And Congress does the same. Huge deficits which are financed with plastic, extended to us from China, but unfortunately, those debts are “real”. We have a phony economy; an economy with no “real” manufcaturing base. So, we get a phony stimulus to spend on phony projects initiated by phony Congressman who were installed by phony consituents. We got the phony economy and phony government we deserve. And if you disagree, then you’re also a phony. I’m keeping it real.

12 years ago

Many answered call to action and God bless ’em! Too many more remain quiet as if all will be made better in Nov., their resolve popular not conviction. Expect progressives to pull out all the stops. Whether baton weilding thugs at polls or thugs at town halls or thugs making an incident, election never sure until over. Even then expect interlopers like that from MN who may have been elected by convicted felons while legitimate absentee ballots by the thousands were not counted.

Lyle R. Rolfe
12 years ago

Many of us saw right through the charm etc of the Big O but just not enough of us did so. l like to think we won’t let it happen again–at least for a while until we get complacent again. In the meantime, the Tea partiers have become involved enough that I think we’ll see some changes in November and some new faces–in both parties. It’s time we set some term limits for those who have outstayed their welcome and that includes at the state level as well (I’m from Illinois, where God knows we need some changes). If columnists like Jedidiah and the good people at Fox News keep us aware of what’s happening, it should help us make changes. If not in November, we may not get another chance before the U.S. as we know it (or knew it before 2008) is changed for the worse for a long time to come.

Navyman Norm
12 years ago

Correction to my last paragraph:
In a society where “everything goes”, then it naturally follows “anything goes”. We have replaced God with “materialism”; morality with ‘relativism’; and “leadership” with lemmings.

Navyman Norm
12 years ago

Unfortunately, our government reflects our culture or lack thereof.

We have learned nothing in the past 2064 years since Cicero uttered these famous words of warning to the Roman Senate:
“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

In asociety where “everything oes”, then it naturally follows “anything goes”. We have replaced God with “materilaism”; morality with ‘relativism’; and

Arnold Brevick
12 years ago

When you get rid of God even the concepts of truth and falsehood change. For many, truth is equivalent to whatever accomplishes my agenda. Lying is a political skill. What we see all around us today is the result of taking the Bible and prayer out of schools. We have taken God out of our knowledge and He has given us up to a depraved mind.

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