Current Affairs MIDDLE AGE MUSINGS  >  This Election: Don’t Buy into the Cult of Personality

This Election: Don’t Buy into the Cult of Personality

This Election: Don’t Buy into the Cult of Personality
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Picture courtesy of CNN.com

BY DON PORTOLESE

 

This election cycle has been clouded by a clash of “—UGE” personalities. To such a degree that it is nearly impossible to look at either candidate objectively. Names and innuendos, some earned, others manufactured, have worked their way into our political discourse. Many are not casting their vote for a presidential candidate or agenda; they are voting for a personality. And the democratic party can ill-afford to let this trend influence how they vote (or don’t) this election.

There is little trust in either candidate. Voter morale is at a serious low. Blah, blah, blah. Well, I got news for you cynics; politics has been a dirty game since it was invented. Anyone running for president has to be an overachieving, manipulative megalomaniac. So, let’s chalk that up to each side and move on from there.

The two candidates have been in the public eye far too long for us to look at them impartially. Contemplating the political landscape through bloated caricatures is devastating to our political process. While we may think we know these candidates, our cynicism and bias (and, yes, the media) have blinded us to what we should really be looking for in a president.

Trump has used his personality to effectively change the rules of the political game. He reminds me of the kid who used to spin when I played foosball back in the day. He didn’t play by the rules, but if he spun those men enough, he could certainly win. Trump has similarly spun the facts during this election, often times with such volume and bravado that people are left marveling at his audacity rather than calling him on his falsehoods. Nothing he says needs to be true because his personality precedes him. As Sean Hannity said to the candidate recently, “You can tell me whatever you want. You’re Donald Trump. You can say anything you want.”

Apparently that is the attitude of most Trump supporters. They are so impressed by his certitude and macho swagger that they are willing to swallow many of his factually challenged assertions. They are also willing to overlook the fact that he has never been one of them. Veterans, working class, cops, you name it. He has absolutely no idea of what it’s like to be a working stiff. Yet, he has stiffed more than a few of these people during his career. Nevertheless, he seems to get a pass when he lies, waffles or disavows previously made statements. This candidate has successfully created a cult of personality, the ultimate brand for his ambitions. Unfortunately, like most cults, it serves only its leader.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton is at a disadvantage, because she can’t use her personality to her advantage. She has been in politics too long, and, justified or not, people just don’t seem to trust her. And in this upside-down election, it is she who gets branded, “Crooked.” While two-thirds of voters believe that Hillary Clinton is dishonest, she really doesn’t merit such a low approval rating in this area. Politifact’s Truth-O-Meter has Clinton pegged as telling the truth 57 percent of the time (on par with most politicians), while Trump only tells the truth 11 percent of the time. Similarly, the number of out-and-out lies were 27 percent for Clinton and 89 percent for Trump. I think it is also important to determine what these candidates are lying about and why they are doing so. If you are lying out of political preservation, that’s one thing. However, exaggerating threats and fabricating statistics with no regard for the facts is downright criminal.

Now, I’m not saying that Clinton hasn’t lied or manipulated the facts to her advantage. However, the fact that people ignore or indulge Trump’s fabrications while holding Hillary to account is flabbergasting. It clearly says that Trump’s cult of personality trumps any desire to deal in the truth. It also says that Clinton, because of her gender and persona, is held to a different standard.

Despite the challenges, republicans seem to be doing a better job of rallying around their nominee. Even Ted Cruz, one of the biggest victims of Trump’s lies and slander, has begrudgingly endorsed him. For all of his faults, he at least understands what’s at stake. Democrats, on the other hand, are caught up in a pernicious cynicism that will prompt some to sit out this election. Whether disgruntled Bernie supporters or disillusioned left-of-center democrats who feel Clinton won’t be liberal enough, these are the people who may cost us this election. These are the people who need to look beyond Clinton’s personality and see what hangs in the balance.

If you like most of what Obama has been doing, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Clinton will not veer too abruptly from his current path. Obama himself has said so. Yet, many of these democrats buy into the narrative that Clinton will let Wall Street run amok or hawkishly drag us into another war. I’m sorry, but the alternative is far scarier and such scenarios far more likely if Trump reaches the White House. Yet, it’s not just what he’d do, it’s what he would undo.

We have before us a host of challenges that will shape the coming years. There is the Paris Climate Agreement which is within a few countries of being ratified. What would happen to our standing in the world of we withdrew from this historic achievement because our president believed climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese? What would happen to our standing in the world if our foreign policy reverted back to its unilateral means of solving problems?

Add to that, republicans are gerrymandering their way to victory in the House and Senate. They are also working to pass unconstitutional laws to suppress minority votes. We have a Supreme Court with many justices on the verge of retirement, voluntary or otherwise. The selection of replacements is critical to shaping who we want to be as a nation. Do we want conservative judges to repeal the entire progressive agenda, including abortion and gay marriage? Do we want more laws like Citizens United?

We have an immigration system that is in shambles. We have a health care system that could be the envy of the world, but whose success has been stifled by obstructionism. We have infrastructure projects that need immediate attention, but which have been blocked by republicans who preach austerity. (Had we listened to them, we would not have recovered from the recession as quickly.) This party has shown time and again that they would rather cling to the past than embrace these necessary changes for the future.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. With so much at stake, we must get beyond personality and consider which party will further our political agenda. As usual, republicans have done a far better job of understanding this and banding together, even given the challenges their candidate has created for them. Democrats, however, seem to think they have the luxury to wax cynical and sit this election out. I won’t tell you whether to vote or not. That is up to you. However, I will say, if you let personality or your own rancor cause you to withhold your vote, YOU will be to blame if Mr. Trump becomes our commander and chief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...