Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | October 28, 2008

The Cult Of Personality

Thankfully, our presidential election will be over and done in one short week.  It has been a wild ride for nearly two full years.  I could not believe that the jockeying for position began within days of the close of the mid-term elections in 2006.  Am I the only one thinking that our presidential election season is insanely long?

And what do we make of all of the negativity of the campaign?  Both campaigns and their surrogates speak much too sparsely when it comes to issues, and they spend far too much time seeking to win votes through negativity and personal attacks.  Each campaign seeks to define the opposition in their own terms, and they try to make their oft-times distorted definition “stick” with the public.  Personalities are attacked, personal associations are revealed (the more unsavory the better), and details of a candidate’s personal life and family are laid bare for all to see.  Any personal detail that can possibly be portrayed as a negative is seized upon and made into prime political hay.

The goal of these brute politics is to paint a negative picture with the broadest stroke possible on the biggest canvas in the most public place and then hope that the paint will hold fast.  More simply put, the objective is to assassinate the character or otherwise call into question the competence of the candidate opposite.  When this is done successfully, it can end the political career of a very capable public servant.  Look, for example, at what happened to Dan Quayle, and look at what the future may be for Sarah Palin after this election.

So why all the negativity at the expense of real issues?  The answer is really quite simple.  Political campaigns know something that the public generally does not.  And that is that issues don’t matter, or at least they don’t matter in terms of winning the election.  This might at first glance be a surprising statement; but the fact is that those people who are voting the issues, long ago made up their minds for whom they will be voting.

Perhaps 90 percent of voters in the upcoming presidential election made their choice weeks or months ago.  And that percentage is evenly split between the two candidates.  That leaves 10 percent of the voting public who will decide this election.  And these people simply do not care about issues; if they did, they would have easily made their decision by now because the issues are clear and the differences between the two candidates on the issues are striking.

The voters in this middle 10 percent are concerned with personalities only, often obsessively so.  Their votes hinge on such things as the speech-making abilities of a candidate, the youthful appearance of a candidate, which Hollywood stars are supporting which candidate, what the mainstream media have to say today about candidate X or Y, what new truths about a candidate are being stated in the negative advertising of the day, what color lipstick the candidate is wearing on a given day, and on and on.  These are the things that the middle 10 percent care about.  Don’t give them real issues; they could care less.

So it comes down to this: The middle 10 percent will decide this election, and they will decide it on the cult of personality.  This year, the biggest cult following is for candidate Obama.  It is likely that he will be elected president next week not because of his qualifications, his experience, his ideas, or his stand on the issues but, rather, because he is the Messianic candidate.  Obama is, in the minds of his supporters, “the one” who will usher in the age of peace and prosperity, of justice, and of social and economic equality.  On January 20, 2009, we will be treated to a new “Sermon on the Mount” and, in the prophetic words of Hillary Clinton, “The sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know that we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.”  And we will all rejoice that the world will forever be changed by our election of “that one.”


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