Cults of personality

(Originally posted February 02, 2008)

Welcome back, readers. I have mostly spent this past week sending out resumés for job applications. Before I could write my cover letters, I had to google all the correct elements of a business letter — because I failed that topic back in second grade.

In other news, I saw Rambo IV. It satisfied all my expectations. Moreover, to commemorate the occasion, I ordered this hot new shirt off the internet:

As you all know, various states have been holding presidential primary elections lately. The Maine caucuses are underway right at this moment, and on Tuesday, lots of other states will hold primaries all at once. Should be exciting! But let’s examine a few disturbing trends I have noticed with the elections so far.

Blind Faith

I have noticed a number of people blindly supporting candidates based on superficial commonalities. For example, Barak Obama is black, so many black people support him. Hillary Clinton is a woman, so women support her. Mike Huckabee was a preacher, so Christians support him. Furthermore, there are mainstream Christians who refuse to vote for Romney simply because he’s a Mormon. Polls in Florida even suggested that many elderly people voted for McCain because he is the oldest candidate. In contrast, it also seems that a lot of college kids are supporting Obama largely due to his relative youthfulness and vitality. All of these people who vote this way are just plain stupid; they have no consistent philosophy or sense of intellectual honesty.

I don’t have any problem with a woman voting for Hillary because she agrees with Hillary’s hippie-liberal views, but don’t vote for a woman just because you think it would be “cool” to have a female president! Moreover, how logical (or American) is it to support a candidate based on his race? Even several of my conservative-leaning black friends have mentioned their support for Obama — even though he is probably the most liberal out of all the candidates in both parties. And don’t even get me starting on the large number of unthinking Christian voters — or old people.

Interestingly, rapper 50 Cent has endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying,

“I’d like to see Hillary Clinton be president. It would be nice to see a woman be the actual president and . . . this is a way for us to have Bill Clinton be president again, and he did a great job during his term.”

An Overt De-Emphasis of the Issues

But most of this superficiality could probably be expected. Nonetheless, a few things about the various campaigns actually surprise me. For example, heated dissention has dramatically split the Democratic party between the Obama camp and the Hillary camp. Democrats are actually getting emotional about their primary elections, even though both candidates hold most of the same positions and would probably do a virtually identical job as president.

On the Republican side, a large number of people lean toward John McCain. What are some distinguishing characteristics of John McCain? Well, 1) he is a war hero; 2) he has been in the Senate a long time; 3. he correctly predicted that we would need more soldiers in Iraq; 4) He is a bold “maverick” who refuses to be bound by “partisan politics.” Supporters will point to all these characteristics. But as good as any of those traits may sound, THEY ARE NOT ISSUES.

Quite the contrary! Both parties seem to be squabbling over mere personalities! Personalities can be useful, but they are definitely not the most important part of a leader.

Compare this obsession with personality to that emphasis found in authoritarian regimes. Authoritarianism focuses on the leader:  The country is ruled by a person rather than by principles. When we waste time squabbling over personalities, we act like the most corrupt nations in the world.

Honestly, I don’t care that McCain is brave, that Obama is charismatic, that Hillary Clinton is nice and feminine (or that she’s married to Bill), or that Huckabee is a good speaker, or whatever. I care about the issues. If we have gotten to the stage where pacifists will vote for warmongers, capitalists will vote for socialists, pro-lifers will vote for abortion, and old people will simply vote for the oldest candidates on the ballot, there is practically no point in having democracy anymore. Democracy is supposed to involve intelligent masses making their opinions known.



Chris posted,
“Actually, before it was fully clear that McCain was getting the nomination, Ann Coulter said she would CAMPAIGN for Hillary is he got the GOP nomination. The video’s pretty interesting, and she actually argues for Hillary being MORE conservative in SOME areas than McCain…
(03-22-2008, 12:20 am)

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