Not Fit to Serve Again
During the course of World War II, my grandfather was a young boy. Amazing man though he is, I do feel my grandfather to be somewhat limited by his years: a bit physically, perhaps a little mentally, even culturally. Despite these limits, I still think my grandfather could be a very apt leader in government, were he to decide to pursue that now (which seems unlikely). In most positions such as this, however, (especially high-level ones), my grandfather's limits would mean that although he might be well-qualified to serve, he almost certainly would not be the best able to serve.
My grandfather was a young boy during World War II. Ted Stevens was a soldier in World War II.
I almost titled this most "A Defense of Agism," but truth be told, I'm not being agist when I say Ted Stevens is unqualified to reenter politics, and indeed, I would say even as he made his incredible decision to run for reelection in 2008, Stevens was unqualified to continue to serve Alaska - convicted felon or not.
This post is basically a qualification of the one before it; that was a light-hearted satire to be sure, but nevertheless a focused release of my frustration over the responses of Alaskans to our former Senator's exhoneration. I do not wish to disregard the continuing legal and ethical questions that remain regarding Stevens' past actions, but neither will I focus on them. My issue is that some Alaskans have had the audacious stupidity to suggest that Ted Stevens reenter politics. These people seem to include the ever-amazing Representative Don Young, as well as Governor Palin and Randy Ruedrich (both mentioned in the previous post) but not, as far as I know, the former Senator himself, so it is my hope that Stevens will finally engage himself with some earned relaxation. I do not believe the man is unable to afford retirement, so perhaps that would, at last, be an option for him.
My problems with suggestions that Stevens reenter politics are both practical and idealistic.
- Stevens is unfit to serve Alaska. As I mentioned in the introduction of this post, age does bring with it certain limitations. I am in no way opposed to older people serving in government, but I have personally observed some of Ted's deficiences - and some are likely apparent even to those who have simply watched him on television. Two years ago, I met Senator Stevens, and for some reason or another he began talking about the Iraq War, and in the course of his speech referred to the location of the war as... Vietnam. Call that a freudian slip if you will, but it is just a very small personal example of the man's limits. Stevens is currently 85 years old. During such volatile years, a person should live in peace. Even the shortest of political terms, in my mind, would be too long, too risky, and simply not worth the former Senator's energy. It's too bad that Stevens has left politics the way he has, but he has left, and for him - and for Alaska - that is a good thing.
- Alaska is unfit to serve Ted Stevens. By this I mean that Alaskans should serve Ted Stevens with the respect he is due, now that he has indeed left politics. Making suggestions like Don Young's that Stevens should run for governor does not serve him justly, and it betrays a political immaturity of which anyone who has served Alaska for so long should be ashamed. I believe that it is incredibly unhealthy for a population to feel dependent on their continued representation by certain politicians - or even certain political factions. Stasis in representation should and does lead to decreases of productivity - productivity as measured by a representative's energy, enthusiasm, efficiency, devotion to his constituents - even the encouraging influence of job insecurity, if you know what I mean. In my view, the attitude that seniority trumps all and that experience is paramount is a very dangerous one to be widespread in a community. In Alaska, that attitude reigns rampant, and Exhibit A in proof of its existence is the longevity of Senator Stevens.
Quite frankly, I think that even six years is too long a time for a person to be a Senator in the Congress of the United States of America. Democracy requires accountability, and accountability is lost when constituents feel dependent on their politicians. Instead, it should be the other way around. Wake up, Alaska. The time is now to be independent.