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Something has been lost, recently. Call it innocence or naivete.

In ancient times, a national leader was a mythic figure. The average citizen never caught a glimpse of the sovereign, except maybe as a stylized sculpture or a face on a coin. This gulf between the commoner and ruler inspired reverence and fear. The leader was no mere mortal. In fact, often, the King or Emperor was a God. A lesser God, perhaps, but still a deity.

The American President is hardly a God, but the Executive Office yet holds an element of majesty. Our great leaders are enshrined as statues and on currency. Even when we disagree with a President's policies, we still pay great respect to the position (if not the person).

I think this is all about to change. Thanks to the miracle of television, the distance between the electorate and the President is negligible. Watching Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon spar in the second televised debate last night, I felt no sense of awe, no feeling that these were extraordinary people. I might as well have been watching two fellows compete for the mayorship or a seat on the school board.

Perhaps this is a good thing. After all, the President is a human being, and we want a human to represent us, don't we? Still, I can't help feeling a pang of regret at the close of a (rose-tinted) era.

(read the rest at Galactic Journey)


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