When Did Education and Intellect Become Political Negatives?

This post is not intended to criticize Sarah Palin and John McCain, nor is it meant to praise Barack Obama. Rather, it aims to raise one key question: since when did the American people forget the importance of pragmatic intellectualism and education?

The forefathers of the United States were children of religious bigotry and persecution, and, as a result, fled Britain to create a new approach to life and government. They valued intellect and education. In fact, they outlined the principles of the United States' democracy to establish intellectual freedom from the Church.

The Constitution separated the ideologies and values of the Church from the State, and leaders of the State were thus educated in matters pertaining to the State. These leaders proved themselves time after time with their pragmatic intellectual capacities. The public trusted them as well, seeing intellectuals as the authorities of their studied subject matters.

Unfortunately, we are now living in a different world. No longer does the public want a leader with an education or experience. The public wants the beer-drinking buddy from Texas or the beauty queen from Alaska. Cover photos on US Weekly and People Magazine are now the new authoritative credentials -- so much so that they carry more clout than Harvard Law degrees and Constitutional Law professorships.

But right now, more than ever, we need a dynamic leader with the intellectual capacity to tackle the issues at hand. We need a leader who can solve economic problems, as well as deal with nuclear threats. We need a leader who can approach problems with reason and logic. Not so long ago, we had such leaders. And better yet, the public actually admired them for being masters of their craft. Nowadays it seems that many Americans equate education and intellectual capacity with snobbery and arrogance.

Education and experience in leadership, though, determine capacity for leadership. Somebody lacking the necessary education and experience simply will not have the capacity to successfully lead. We wouldn't want someone without cooking experience to cook for us, so why would we want someone without political or foreign policy experience to govern us?

Calling oneself a hero after making mistakes shouldn't earn public trust. And certainly, selecting a person as a running mate solely because she's a woman -- and therefore appeals to a segment of potential voters -- doesn't make you right. Palin is unqualified on her record to be the president of the United States, plain and simple

Either we're a country that believes race and gender are the key issues in 2008, or we're going to elect the most suitable people we can find. Pragmatism doesn't mean we elect an unqualified candidate who claims that two years as governor of Alaska qualifies her to be president. Palin has no foreign policy experience whatsoever. Alaska's proximity to Russia doesn't count. How about her views on unprotected sex? If we're going to deal with morality and values, then we need to be honest. There's something hypocritical about Palin telling our children to abstain altogether, or to at the very least have protected sex, when she apparently forgets to teach her own children to do the same. We can't allow our leaders to play the old "do as I say, not as I do" game.

Why have we resorted to nominating pretty faces on People Magazine as suitable candidates to run our nation? Is it going to take the National Enquirer covering stories about Palin's child, childhood, six colleges, etc. to really wake us up from this bad dream?