Reading about the Rick Perry “Niggerhead” issue here, I can’t help thinking: Seriously? This is the sort of nonsense that people should be getting excited about? It raises a bigger issue about modern western politics. We now live in an age where candidates are terrified of offending people, putting off wavering voters, or expressing opinions that may cause potential voters to disagree with them. Note the phrase: “potential voters”. Michele Bachmann has no problem offending voters in San Francisco, because they’ll never vote for her. Likewise, Pres. Obama will not spend a huge amount of time worrying about voters in Utah, for the same reason. But key scientifically identified swing voters of either party, they get mollycoddled and pandered to and in the end we end up with candidates who “believe in the country” and “putting people ahead of the special interests” and all that nonsense.
I have voted for and donated to candidates I didn’t agree with (easier with the Irish preference voting system, admittedly) because I respected them if not their views, and I believed that a political system needs diversity. I have also forgiven candiates for gaffes because I knew that those gaffes did not define them as a whole. There was more to Dan Quayle than “potato”. There was more to Bill Clinton than Monica. There was more to Howard Dean than a single roar, and yes, there was more to George W. than his twisted syntax. There’s more to Rick Perry than a rock with a name on it, no matter how offensive that name is, and we need to recognise that our elected leaders need to be judged on the whole sum of their values, not tiny snippets that suit our prejudices.