In times of great tragedy, we all need the occasional silliness to relieve the sadness. Because of this fact, I am about to write words I never thought I would – thank god for Levi Johnston and his planned run for (the not yet vacant or available position of) mayor of Wasilla.
As we mourn the man most consider the penultimate politician of Alaska’s 20th Century, the person who may come to personify the politician of the 21st Century confronts us – a boy brought to notoriety by a fertile reproductive system, a very lucky unplanned pregnancy and reality TV. His qualifications for the job he seeks include no high school education, no discernible platform, no indication he has any idea what problems might need solving in Wasilla, and no obvious intelligence to bring to those problems he might discover there.
In this brave new millennium we have just entered, not being qualified for a political position does not stand in the way of seeking it. Nor does it seem to stand in the way of actually getting the job because our culture apparently no longer requires or needs qualified people in politics.
The only real qualification seemingly needed in American politics today is to be a “personality” of some sort. What you do or accomplish is much less important than the sound bites and video clips you can offer to an ever more voracious 24 hour news cycle where any attempt at taste and discrimination falls victim to the need to fill time between commercials for creams that will enhance your sexual experience.
And so Levi comes to fulfill our greatest dream of a 21st Century politician – completely unqualified and proud of it. No high school diploma? No problem. A high school diploma would just make him one of the elitists who insist on reading books that don’t have animation on every page.
No idea what the job you seek might actually require? No problem. That’s what all those elitists are for – they handle the small stuff while you proudly proclaim your ignorance of any actual details of your platform.
Gee, as I write this I’m starting to realize where Levi might have gotten the idea that you don’t need to be qualified for the job you seek. His run for mayor of Wasilla makes as much sense as his almost mother-in-law’s run for vice president of the United States. In neither case is the actual ability to handle the job an issue so long as the daily sound bites rouse the rabble.
Whether you liked Ted Stevens or not, the one thing you couldn’t argue was that he was brilliant at what he did. How else do you come from the next to the last state admitted to the union and end up as one of the most powerful men in the US Senate? I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that this is a future Levi will never know.
Most people are assuming that Levi’s run for mayor of Wasilla falls somewhere between a reality show stunt and a slap in the face to one of Wasilla’s previous mayors. They would be very right.
Despite the insistence of “Team Levi” that the boy plans to make a serious run based on his knowledge of the problems in Wasilla and what he perceives as their solutions, it is hard to take this insistence seriously when the announcement of his run is made simultaneously with the announcement of his reality show. There are some cynics among us who might see that as somehow connected, with the paycheck at the end of the show being more the goal than actual election to office.
I think most of us are laboring under the assumption that Levi does not stand that proverbial snowball’s chance of winning this race. But we should probably not be so complacent in our assumptions. As Robert Heinlein’s character Lazarus Long once said, “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
Get enough people thinking that it might be fun to vote for Levi as a joke and he could become the joke that is Wasilla’s mayor.
The greatest generation produced Ted Stevens. The UTube generation has produced Levi Johnston. I fear for the future of civilization.