I'll just come out and say it: I am scared to death that someone as unapologetically average as Sarah Palin could possibly become our next president.
Sure, I've whined a lot in the past 8 years about George W. Bush not being as bright as some sixth-graders I've known, but at least he'd gone through the motions; he pretended that he was competant. Ms. Palin hasn't gone to college. More than that, she seems to demean the importance of intelligence and experience, relying on the innate goodness that supposedly comes from being normal.
For these last two weeks I have been going to a graduate-level Principles of Neuroscience class. During the course of the three-hour class, Dr. Singer seamlessly switches between complex physics concepts, math I've never seen, biochemistry, and evolutionary biology. Although I'm not expected to have as deep of mastery on all those subjects as he has, it's becoming clear to me that it is simply not possible to understand the human nervous system without having a pretty substantial chunk of other branches of science down pat.
I'll admit that it can be uncomfortable (read: humbling) to listen to Dr. Singer lecture. His brilliance adds a layer of seperation between himself and anyone who hasn't done the preparatory work to understand his lectures. It's not that he can't explain difficult concepts simply, it's that difficult concepts need to be understood within their natural context if they are going to be of any use; "Shia=good, Sunni=bad" might get you through a high-school history test if it's multiple choice, but would-be presidents require a slightly more nuanced understanding.
Palin has proven that she can be charismatic, but I worry deeply about her ability--in the same way that would worry about any other Joe six-pack--to understand the world in complex enough ways to lead our country.
I recognize that I am in no position to pass judgement. Ms. Palin has had a lot of success and some real-world experience in governance. Furthermore, she is probably much more intelligent than the Couric interview would lead us to believe; heaven knows that I stumbled over arguments all the time in debate.
I guess what finally gets me angry in the end is that I am struggling so hard to gain expertise, only to have the very concept mocked by national politics. Since when was being average a virtue? What self-respecting company would hire the most middling applicant they could, simply because they were unexceptional? Do you go to the most average mechanic you can find? The most average dentist? So for those of you Republicans out there (and I know that some of you read this blog), when you vote for McCain/Palin, please do so because you think they will be the best suited to run the country, not just because you can relate to them better.
Note: I stand corrected about Palin attending college. I misinterpreted her statement in her interview with Katie Couric in which she said: "I’m not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world.No, I’ve worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture. The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world."
Thanks to Charles for pointing that out to me.