Focus on the person, not the politician



Liz_Smith_HeadshotsElizabeth Smith

Having just emerged from a presidential election, I feel beaten down by all the political talk — one of my least favorite conversation topics in the human repertoire. Elections are exponentially more painful for me as I have a tendency to support the underdog.

While I am not naïve and do try to educate myself on politicians, I have always struggled to take what I learn with a grain of salt. When I was in fourth grade, I was assigned a report on former President Jimmy Carter. From my research, I loved Mr. Carter — he was a peanut farmer and I thought that was so amazing.

In studying United States history last year, I learned Carter wasn’t quite the leader I had come to believe. He struggled with international relations, most notably the Iran hostage crisis.

President Barack Obama is a different story entirely. While I do still maintain my fervent distaste for politics, Obama is more than just a capable leader, he is an inspiring person.

I read “Of Thee I Sing,” a children’s book he dedicated to his daughters about their new lives as the first family. I ad¬mire him for his dedication to his own girls and to children across the country. He’s gone from guest-starring on iCarly — his daughters’ favorite television show at one point — to his focus on the child victims of Newtown or people displaced by floods and storms.

Obama can go from earnest to playful in virtually no time at all. A picture of him depicts him taking a break from the campaign trail and ending up in a pile of laughing children. Perhaps it’s the youth that he holds over most former presidents that sets him apart in my mind, or perhaps his own family rubs off on him — but whatever the reason, he is an authentic person, not the infamous sleazy type of politician who riles everyone up for all the wrong reasons.

While a president can’t be effective without experience and a stern grip on domestic and foreign affairs, I think a talented leader needs to possess nearly equal parts personality and equal parts efficiency in government.

For me, it really is about the person, not the politician.