Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | November 20, 2007

Follow the crowd

One of the most interesting aspects of politics for me is the concept of momentum, that is to say that voters preferences shift from one candidate to another and back again as an election cycle plays out. It would seem to me that a voter would first identify with a candidate based on issues, and then consider something of the candidate’s personality; one would think that the voter would then stick with that candidate to the end.

But voters, for whatever reason, are a fickle bunch. Members of the voting public will hitch their carts to whichever passing political wagon seems to already have the most carts hitched to it. They identify with the perceived winner of the moment, rather than with another candidate with whom they hold the same convictions, but who happens to be down further in the polls.

I suppose that this is only natural given that most of us function with a herd mentality. This explains why the early caucuses and primaries in presidential politics are so important. Whoever wins early, wins the momentum, and the electorate can’t beat a path to that candidate fast enough. Everyone wants on the bandwagon with a winner.

It is sad, however, that this process yields time and again office holders who obtained their posts by virtue of their lust for power and drive to achieve it, and by their political connections and shear force of personality within party politics and the political machine; real qualifications do not seem to matter much. In most cases, the winner of a political spectacular is far from the best person for the job. In fact, most of the time the best candidates don’t even bother to run, mainly because their egos are not big enough to sustain them through the process.

We Americans settle for far less in our leaders than we should. But it has been said that “we get the government that we deserve.” What does that say about us?



  1. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  2. Where do you disagree? There are a number of points raised in the essay, so I am curious.

    I will say, however, the process does not always yield inept leaders. I didn’t intend to leave that impression, though I can see where one might come away with it.

    In particular, most of our national leaders have “risen” to the post to which they have been elected and served with honor, if not distinction. And in many cases, also with quite a bit of distinction.

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