Having faith this election

by Beacon Staff • October 29, 2008

p>Voters shouldn't deify politicians or cast votes based on impeccable behavior or a magnetic persona. The job is being president-not pastor-in-chief, and certainly not soul mate.,In June 2001, President Bush held a press conference with former Russian President Vladimir Putin. Love was in the air.br /"I looked the man in the eye," Bush said. "I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Many scoffed at the notion that Bush could read Putin's soulmdash;his trustworthiness, his motivations, the essence of his being. In the years since, the scoffers were proven right. Putin has waged war on free speech, Russian democracy andmdash;most recently and most disturbinglymdash;neighboring Georgia. He now assumes an unrepentant and adversarial stance towards his neighbors and the United States. The Russian leader is among the world's worst menaces: Mugabe, Jong Il, Chavez. Bush sure didn't see that.

Nor did the American electorate see what was coming when they twice electedmdash;largely on the grounds of his born-again soulmdash;a Texas governor with more swagger than sense. Bush, our country's most overtly religious president, will go down as one of its worst.

Without years of intimacy and established trust (and sometimes not even then), we can't see into each other's souls. Not Bush at some summit with a man he's just met. Not us watching Barack or John on CNN.

Voters shouldn't deify politicians or cast votes based on impeccable behavior or a magnetic persona. The job is being presidentmdash;not pastor-in-chief, and certainly not soul mate.

Many say that with Barack Obama (whose victory is all but certain as the electoral map fades to blue), we are again choosing a vacuous leader; that his speeches are littered with ethereal words like "hope" and "change;" that they carry a messianic tone. More likely than a messiah complex is this: Obama is trying to win and using what works.

Some will vote for the Obama phenomenon with little knowledge of how he will govern. But others will choose Obama for his well-reasoned policies and the calm, unwavering competence he displayed throughout the campaignmdash;qualities we will need in order to face the challenges ahead.

Obama will lead a nation that is in many ways broken, one whose total debt (governmental, pension and personal) is $53 trillion and rising. We hear it every election, but it is true now more than ever: the coming years are a pivotal time for the nation. Hopefully, we will choose our leaders wisely. Hopefully, there's more to Obama than hope.br /br style="font-style: italic;" style="font-style: italic;"Chris Girard is a junior communication studies major and a former opinion co-editor of The Beacon.