An Open Letter to Joe 6-Pack -- These Buds Are NOT for You

11/02/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Joe and Jane Six-Pack,

In the last two elections many of you chose to vote for the guy who seemed like the sort of person you'd like to have a beer with. John McCain and Sarah Palin are appealing to you to vote on a similar basis this year.

They mock "elites," and Hollywood, and people with a lot of education, and those who go to Georgetown cocktail parties, and . . . . the list goes on and on.

They try, in the case of Gov. Palin, to make a virtue of ignorance. Wouldn't you like to sit down and have a chat with her? You could have a great talk even if she doesn't know anything about foreign affairs or the economy or anything else that a president needs to know.

Here's my suggestion: Between now and Election Day, go out for a few beers with the people you normally do that with. They are, of course, people you like to hang out with. They're fun to be with. Then look around at them and try decide which of them you think would be a good president.

You might decide that one or two of your friends would, in your opinion, be a good president. But would you be happy to have one of your drinking buddies selected at random and put him or her in charge of war and peace, the economy, and all the other challenges facing us today?

The qualities you seek in friends and drinking buddies and not necessarily the ones that make a good president.

The last eight years should have taught us that lesson.

Our "kind of guy you'd like to have a beer with" president has run the country into the ground.

The beer-drinking-buddy administration has been doing things to you, not for you.

They have been doing things for Wall Street and the the very rich, who in turn have been enabled to do things to you.

Their over-feeding the superrich has not helped you. What trickles down on you when excess is poured into those at the top may start with a "P," but it's not Prosperity.

So, by all means, go out for a beer with George W. Bush and John McCain (but be sure those rich buddies pick up the tab). Have coffee and discuss PTA issues with Sarah Palin. Enjoy yourself with these folks.

But when you vote for president and vice president of the United States, remember that it is much more important to have people in those positions who are for you than it is to have people who are like you.

As president, we need someone who is on our side much more than one we might like to have by our side.

And remember the Who's plea:

Then I'll get on my knees and pray

We don't get fooled again

Don't get fooled again

No, no!

Because if you vote again on the basis of which candidate you'd rather socialize with, you will be fooled again:

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss..

Yours for a "New Boss,"

Bob McElvaine

{Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. His latest book is Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America 2008-07-01-GTJcoversm.jpg.}