“Who would you rather have a beer with?  Candidate A or Candidate B?”

As the political season is nearing fever pitch, and we are under a couple of months away from the 2012 Presidential Election, you will hear a lot of slogans and questions aimed at your general direction.  One of the questions will be like the one above.  Others might be, who would you rather… carpool with, be in fantasy football with, run a dogsledding business with, and fight the inevitable zombie apocalypse with?  It seems to me that we are told that we need a buddy in office, not a competent leader.

Is this what things have come to?  That we choose our representatives and leaders based upon who we would rather spend a day at the zoo with.  Perhaps American society might just be shifting from a formal society to something more casual.  Maybe we would rather have “buddies” as our leaders instead of having a competent, authority figures to lead.  Maybe we look to people we can relate to instead of people who might have a clearer vision than us and who can then perform.

At the risk of sounding like an old-curmudgeon who might be youthful in appearance, pastors, professors, presidents, and parents are called by a first name instead of a title within our society (which may or may not be a bad thing).  Have you noticed that?  It seems like we want to be buddies with everybody, including leaders.  We create the need of approachability for our powerful leaders, for better or worse.

Yes, approachability is something that I would like my leader to have. But I would also like them to embody competence as well.  They might not know who the hottest band is, but they do possess character and integrity.  It might be awkward to go on a roadtrip with that person, but at least they can make the tough calls when nobody else could

As it has been said by someone in some book (I can’t recall where…) that our politicians want to be treated as rock stars and our rock stars want to be treated as politicians.  Instead of seeking popularity by being a buddy, leaders should seek wisdom by being people of strong, generous character.  You may or may not want to grab a beer with the president (unless you’re Baptist, then grab a milkshake with them), but at least you can rely on that person being competent.  So my humble suggestion is to demand competency from our leaders and choose who would be the best leader in line with your values.  Sometimes the better candidate might not be the one you would rather have a beer with.

How do you choose your leaders?