Toasting the President - The Jose Vilson

Toasting the President

September 23, 2008

I don’t want to have a beer with my President.

Scenario

Anyone that thinks otherwise is, at best, a sycophant with a penchant for reading wishy-washy children’s books. Picture the scene: I’ve just gotten back from work at around 5pm, Kangol hat, tie, pinstriped shirt, chalk-tinted slacks, and the weather’s really nasty. I come into my favorite beer place, pushing through a ton of black suited gentlemen, sit on a stool, and watch the 5 o’clock news, and to my right is the freakin’ President of the United States of America. I order a Blue Moon, and he’s got a Sam Adams in hand. We clink glasses when all of a sudden, his face turns flush, practically jumping out of his stool. Why? Because 5 minutes later, the news comes on and there’s another national crisis, and rather than being on his job, he’s there with hops in his breath and his shirt all a mess, completely unready for TV and completely rude: dude left without paying his drink, and here I am again, paying with my hard-earned money for his own follies.

For Real

Now, I’m making a large assumption that a woman wouldn’t be there drinking a beer, but I only hang out with women who pay for their own drinks these days, so the rudeness factor hasn’t come into play in a long time. I’m also making an assumption that the President participates in the modern moonshine. More than anything, though, I’m under the assumption that most people who understand the role of the President know that it’s not a job someone can take lightly. It’s bad enough our present President thinks he can break out the candles during the peak of Hurricane Katrina while the guy we were supposed to have (the guy that people said they probably WOULDN’T have a beer with) is getting drenched from working down there. Imagine that our President is finding out when disaster strikes on television at the same time we do.

No way.

I for one would never want the mayoralty, much less the Presidency of a whole country. I’d lose sleep thinking about the millions of people I’m serving, the hundreds of critical (and often life-and-death) decisions my team and I would have to make on a daily basis, the billions of taxpayer dollars I have a primary say over, the policies and doctrines under my name, sealing the legacy of me and my whole bloodline probably for the next couple of centuries. With great power comes tons of responsibility, and while I’d at first relish the chance to take the nation’s highest office, I’d never be up for that kind of challenge.

In turn, it behooves anyone with a clear conscience to think about the responsibilities of whoever is chosen as the next President. It reminds me of Robert Greene’s 34th Law of Power, where he says

Law 34: Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be treated like one”

Theoretically, we’d say that we would love to meet the President and have him or her be normal, just like everyone else. Yet, presidents are abnormalities. They’re kings with term limits and high chairs instead of bloodlines and thrones. They’re servants to and rulers of the people, and that’s why, when we elect an official, we better make sure they’re good decision makers, because the less informed have a hard time making critical decisions for themselves. We also note that, time and again, when people of high rank or a certain celebrity tried to act like everyone else, people immediately turned on the person, to the point where his or her legacy is completely disparate from the person who lays there, bereft of the pedestal on which they once stood.

SO I don’t want to have a beer with the president. I don’t need to feel any “ordinary” connections with whoever takes the post. If we eat a meal together at the big house, that’s cool. If the Prez wants to watch a game at Yankee Stadium with me next year (and hook a brotha up with 2 or 3 extra tickets), then by all means, let’s do that. But seriously, you really think I want to know that the leader I helped elect (or not) is out there somewhere, imbibing when there’s so much work to be done for this country? My tax dollars are going to that?

No thanks. I won’t be toasting to that.

jose, who can’t wait to go to Coming Back Together in Syracuse this week …

This post was written by...

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

For more about me, read here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugh O'Donnell September 24, 2008 at 3:08 am

Jose, you nailed it. The perfect description of the perceived social distance an elected official needs to maintain.

And the higher the office, the more critical the distance maintenance.

I totally agree. I’d be disappointed to find Barack Obama down at the local tav acting like everyman. It wouldn’t be real, for starters, and it sure as hell would not be an example of high level leadership.

You rocked on this post, my friend.

Hugh O’Donnells last blog post..Happy Camper!

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avoiceinthewilderness September 24, 2008 at 7:35 am

I agree. As much as I liked Bill Clinton, I didn’t like attempts to make him appear “more like us”. Truthfully, I’d like to think that our elected officials have a bit more knowledge and experience than I do.
Instead, we have a Vice Presidential candidate who has just recently obtained a passport.
Call me crazy, but I’d like to see a leader with some kind of global perspective.

avoiceinthewildernesss last blog post..The 190th Carnival of Education…

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NYC Educator September 27, 2008 at 10:20 am

Great thought. I’m always surprised when people are supposedly disqualified for the presidency because they’re “elitist.” And I’m even more surprised when the title comes not from having 9 houses or 13 cars, but by drinking fancy coffee or eating protein bars.

I want my President to be elite. I want my President to be the brightest, the ablest, the best at dealing with the insane demands of the job. Furthermore, insane though the job may be, being insane is a less than desirable quality for someone aspiring to lead the United States. Being an imbecile doesn’t help much either, amusing though it may be to have a beer with said imbecile.

NYC Educators last blog post..Sinking Fast

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CaliforniaTeacherGuy September 27, 2008 at 10:07 pm

The president of the United States ought to be at least one cut above you and me.

CaliforniaTeacherGuys last blog post..

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Tips Paradise Blog September 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I couldn’t agree more on this issue on the president and I like your way of telling about it here. huh, made me think again…. what’s the guy up to this time?

Tips Paradise Blogs last blog post..DBA Services Experts

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