In Hindu cosmology, if I remember my college courses correctly, it is not only possible that one might be reincarnated into an animal, but also into a higher being; a demi-god of sorts. However, despite this, the preferred state is humanity, because being born human allows one the opportunity for enlightenment, to become one with the truest part of existence and, therefore, reach one's true potential. Animals cannot attain this state of enlightenment (though some would disagree with that), because they are too focused on surviving to consider the consequences of their actions. The higher beings, on the other hand, are too impressed with themselves to seek a greater truth.
As I've been watching the GOP primary race, this model of the universe has come to mind many times. While the prize they seek is so much less important or lofty as enlightenment, there is a microcosm of the Hindu model present within the dynamics of the GOP frontrunners. Fewer examples are so clear of this as the bet that Gov. Mitt Romney offered to Gov. Rick Perry.
If you are unfamiliar, Gov. Perry suggested that Gov. Romney was once for an individual mandate in healthcare and that he had tried to distance himself from it. Romney then offered Perry a $10,000.00 wager hinging on Perry's ability to prove his accusation. Perry did not take the bet, but the fact the bet was made spoke volumes about the men who are trying to gain the trust of the American People.
The blogoshere lit up when this bet was made. At a time when the Average American would be hard pressed to come op with a tenth of that amount in case of emergency, this man offered to toss ten grand into a hat on a whim. And he could do it, too.
Now, I am not going to suggest that wealth is an evil thing or begrudge Gov. Romney his success. But the fact that he was willing to make such a bet, to so casually toss out an amount that is more than some American's bring home in a year, demonstrates a fundamental disconnect with the people of the United States. It shows him to be like the Hindu demi-gods, so impressed with his own power and brilliance that he fails to see the bigger picture. And he is not the only one on the podium who is guilty of that oversight.
Former U.S. Representative Santorum discussed health care recently and said that it was right that people with per-exisiting conditions be charged extra for health insurance; he tried to cite his own experience with this, having had to secure it for his chronically ill daughter, but fails to see that such expenses aren't an option for many Americans. Rep. Michelle Bachman has suggested removing minimum wage as a way to end unemployment, despite the many Americans who live on on minimum wage finding it hard to get by. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has said that child labor laws should be altered so that poor children might take the jobs that are held by unioized workers in the school system. And for that matter, the GOP has been speaking about unions as if they were Satan for some time now, unions which many see as the reason they have any voice in the workplace.
These are the people who want to convince us they are here for the common man.
What the GOP needs to do is stop campaigning, as such, and begin listening. They need to hear the voice of those who they govern or would govern and understand what their actual concerns are. They need to show more empathy and less grandstanding. They need to wager more conservatively.
The GOP pool of nominees continues to fail to impress those not already aligned with their ideals. It is unlikely that in between now and next November, they will have an epiphany and understand what it's like for someone who doesn't make six figures a year to live in this economy and this political climate. It is more unlikely they will actually succeed in unseating President Obama.
But should one of these nominees take that office, my hope is that something will impress upon them the needs of the average citizen and that their policies will not be driven by the will of a few donors or the detached ideologies of wealthy men that have forgotten, if they ever knew, what it's like for your security to last only as long as the current paycheck. I hope they will campaign and, if they are still in position to do so, govern with that hardest of qualities that should come naturally.