This Is The Guy We’re Looking For

When you get to one point in this, just accept that I’m a sentimental old fool.

I was working in my office, and Grandma calls up from downstairs, “Come here, quick!” Figuring along the lines that she’d dropped a piece of family china (hey, it’s just stuff), or maybe had spilled her drink, and just about positive that she hadn’t just found out she was pregnant, I shot downstairs. (At my age, “shot” is relative. My grandkids would probably say, “stumbled.”) She led me to the television.

Charlie Rose was interviewing Neil deGrasse Tyson. Now, as charming as Mr. Rose is, we watch him about once every… actually, I don’t remember the last time. But we’re big fans of Dr. Tyson from the Cosmos series. In fact, we liked his presentation better than some of the content.

(Grandpa’s edit, October 2018. The use of that term, “as charming as Mr. Rose is,” now stands out in a harsh irony. I’m leaving this reference up as reflective of the time and attitude when I wrote it. I do not, nor should any decent human, condone the allegations/actions that have since come to light. In fact, quite the opposite.)

Here’s the thing. Before this Charlie Rose interview, I had not seen Dr. Tyson for more than a couple minutes in a spontaneous, impromptu environment. We saw him on such things as Cosmos and a cameo on Big Bang Theory, where there’s obviously a script. I’ve seen him in some video clips, and he’s been most impressive in those short bursts of presence. But I have not seen him, like in that interview environment, just answering questions and expounding in real time (more or less – I know these shows are recorded and edited).

As Dr. Tyson was talking, with soaring intelligence, with visionary views, in complete and structured sentences, with a firm grasp of the practicalities on the politics and economics of scientific issues, and with a clear understanding of what drives us humans with whom he identifies on a very personal level, I found a tear forming at the corner of my eye. (This is the sentimental old fool part that I promised you.) I brushed it away, and another took its place. I brushed it away, but dangit, I was leaking.

It wasn’t because his words moved me. It was the Presidential race, which at this time in September 2015 more resembles a massive three-legged race where all the participants hate each other and are trading punches and slaps as they go, with no idea of where the finish line is. It was because I was thinking, with the buffoonery and asshattery and gasbaggery that is going on in this Presidential primary time, why can’t we look to someone like this guy? Someone who is actually smart and practical and can form cogent priorities? Someone who can educate others? Someone who can step outside of parochial interests and staid philosophies and see the goings-on in the human landscape for how it all affects us and the world at large? Some who is actually and eloquently concerned with the human condition?

Those were rhetorical questions that came to me, of course. Being rhetorical questions, no answer is expected. And frankly, given the state of what seems to be driving voter interest, there isn’t a rational answer forthcoming anyway.

So I say, Neil deGrasse Tyson for President. After all, the voters who currently have their collective hand on the electoral stick shift seem to be looking for someone outside of the political system. In their quest, they’re looking favorably at proven business failures and people who have no chance of actually promoting successful policy.

Well, here’s your outsider, a genuine one, not someone promoting “outsider” as a candidacy stunt.

This gentleman is charismatic, his intellect is relatable (because he makes it so) yet beyond what you and I are capable of, he is well-spoken and well-mannered, he is personable, he is impressive and charming, and he gets across ideas mundane and grandiose that inure to the benefit of us all.

But it seems that’s not something we want. We prefer noisemakers. They don’t even have to be good at what they do. They just have to sing the right song at high volume, and the crowds flock.

I would like to think I’m wrong. I would like to think that we can make political choices on the basis of reason and an in-depth analysis of the strength of the candidate’s capacity and character. Hey, dreamers can dream.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson for President.

(This message not approved by Neil deGrasse Tyson. In fact, he’ll most likely never see it, and if he did, he’d probably be either amused or aghast, which would only further endear him to me.)

— Grandpa

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