Thursday, February 07, 2008

charisma

I love it that we can discuss as volatile a topic as politics on this blog without getting argumentative. I can see that people are being frank but amiable in their comments. I love it. You are all so civilized. Thank you.

Lots of people have been dismissive of the importance of charisma and personality in a presidential candidate. I do understand where the distrust of such qualities comes from. We have had charismatic leaders in the past who have proved to be unrepentant liars. Such leaders concealed their lack of character behind an engaging personality. We've been burned. Do we want a repeat of this? Heavens, no.

A candidate who has nothing to offer but charisma is not a good choice for our president. However, I think that personal qualities such as charisma and a good sense of humor are icing on the cake if we can get them in someone already qualified in other ways. Personally, I want to like our president. Is that wrong? I would also like people of other countries to like our president, not so that s/he can win Miss or Mr. World, but because I believe that it could help our country in a myriad of ways.

I also don't think it is unreasonable to want a president who can string a couple of sentences together in a way that is clear, concise, logical, or even inspiring. Rhetoric can be enormously powerful. Of course, it is not all-important. Theodore Roosevelt said, "Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If was are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big."

16 comments:

ave said...

The first time I voted, I voted for George Bush, because I thought he was disarming, funny, and easy going. I thought "wouldn't he be a hoot at a bar-b-que!" I think he is a "people person" where as Gore is kind of like the nerdy anti-social weirdo type. Lots of people voted with that in mind. Charisma and good manners aren't going to mean a darn if we have no social security when we are old. We won't care about a fellow who gives hopeful speeches if our husbands are unemployed because all the work has gone to China and India. I do think that a candidate should have everyhting but they are human, and they do not.

athena said...

i'm somewhat confused by this post. but that's just me. have you read romney's speech for suspending his campaign. i think that's a fine example of rhetoric AND action. his departure gives far greater purpose than any i've seen in this election.

Calandria said...

Ave, I agree with everything you said which is one reason I'm voting Democrat this time.

Athena, what comes across as confusing? I saw a few clips of Romney's speech. I think it was a graceful exit. I wish that he had run his campaign as gracefully.

ML said...

I'm a little puzzled by your comment that you're voting Democrat this time. Are you referring to voting for Obama in the primary or that you intend to vote for whoever the Democrats nominate for the general election? Do you mean to cast a protest vote? (Sorry about all the questions.)

ave said...

Well, I think Obama will win. I am a little excited about it. One thing that I find very interesting is that the conservatives are so sure that if a democrat like Obama or Clinton are in office, then they will completely wreck the economy and screw up the war even more. I am excited to have new blood in there to see if that wreckage will come to passed. Not excited in a fun or good way, just extremely curiously excited. I think that it will help me figure out what my political values really are, because at this time I am very easily swayed by whoever sounds the best at the time. I beleive President Hinckley was a democrat, and Harry Reid said at a talk at BYU he was "a democrat because he is a mormon." Meaning I guess that the socia ideals of democrats are more in keeping with the ideals of the church. Interesting isn't it.

Auntie Lee said...

Charisma can be important if the candidate also has a brain, can be diplomatic and understands the system. But so many times people vote for someone just because they are charismatic. It ends up biting you in the butt in the end.
I think you have to vote for who you think is the right person for the job and that takes work. Learn about the system, about each party, each person and the issues. Democracy takes work.
Wouldn't it be a different world if everyone put more effort into their vote? I don't care who someone votes for as long as they put in the effort to know what they are doing. I am glad that you all seem to be making an effort to really understand and participate. I think it's positive and upbeat.

Calandria said...

I hope the Democratic candidate is Obama, but between Clinton and McCain? At this point, believe it or not, I might go with Clinton. Yup, I'm that fed up with the Republicans. But who knows, because I'm so tired of the Bush and Clinton dynasties.

What is a protest vote?

I don't see evidence that Democrats mess up the economy. In fact, I do not see how the government is directly connected with the economy. I can see that they influence to some degree. Maybe I do not understand the issues well, but from what I can see, people think we have a bad economy because of the drop in the housing market, high oil prices, and outsourcing of jobs to other countries. The drop in the housing market is just how it happens. We all knew the bubble was going to burst. We all knew oil would eventually become more expensive too. All the better reason to look for different solutions. As far as American jobs going overseas, I think that is inevitable. Americans need to be educated for different work. That's just my humble opinion.

Fauna said...

Ave,

Sorry for the random post from someone you don't know, but I am a friend of calandria's and I love checking out her blog. One of the comments you left intrigued me: "I believe President Hinckley was a democrat, and Harry Reid said at a talk at BYU he was "a democrat because he is a mormon." Meaning I guess that the social ideals of democrats are more in keeping with the ideals of the church."

I am not a Mormon (I'm a Catholic), but through calandria, I have learned a bit about your church by talking with her and by visiting the LDS website public issues page ( http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues ). I could be wrong, but from my understanding, your church does not support many of the social positions that Obama advocates, i.e., abortion, homosexual union & adoption, euthanasia, etc. His positions on these issues are actually very radical - to the point that by his voting record, he has been ranked 2007's most liberal senator. There is a disturbing article on the lengths that he will go to support abortion: http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/TerenceJeffrey/2008/01/09/obama_is_the_most_pro-abortion_candidate_ever
As a Catholic who's Church shares many of the same conservative social teachings as yours, I could not vote for a Democrat, unless they were a "Joe Lieberman" type of democrat who was on the more moderate side of these issues and supported the social teachings of my church. I would be interested to learn how this is different for members of the Mormon church? Please don't think I'm being confrontational - I am just curious.

I share your ambiguity when you say that "I am very easily swayed by whoever sounds the best at the time." Unfortunately, that's exactly how the politicians (on both sides!) want us to be. Their job is to sway voters and to try to appeal to as many people as possible with charisma, diplomacy, and frankly, slick political moves. In order to not be swayed, you have to know their actual voting record - their actions - to know who they really are and what their core beliefs are. Otherwise you're casting a vote on emotion.

I too am drawn to Obama for his personality, his vigor, and his charm. I think that there is no doubt that he would be the most "exciting" candidate. But would he be the best candidate to lead our country at a time when global terrorism is a real threat - do his few years in the senate equip and qualify him to make decisions that affect the millions of people in our country, and also the entire world? What about his positions... do they correlate with the values we want representing America? You might like to check out http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm (non-partisan site) to learn about what all of the candidates say they believe/support, and then how their voting records coincide with that.

OK... sorry for the super-long post! :) Thanks to all for some interesting reading and civil discussion!

Gabriela said...

LOL at ave's comment" wouldn't he be a hoot at a bar-b-que!" I think I had the exact same thought.

For me carisma probably plays more of a role than it should in my decision. If someone gives me a creepy feeling, I just can't get excited about them. And, on the flip side, I find myself pretty forgiving if I like the person.

McCain gives me the willies.
I can't stand Hillary
so I guess I am left with Obama.

Calandria said...

Dang! I just wrote a LONG answer for you, Fauna. But it's gone. I'll have to try again when I have a minute.

Auntie Lee said...

A protest vote is when the voter votes in a way to demonstrate their unhappiness with a party, politician or a political system.

In America where there is a two party system, a protest vote can also be when the voter votes for a third party candidate. Often the voter knows the candidate will not win but votes for either extreme right or extreme left in order show their frustration or disappointment with the two major parties.

In the last Dutch elections, the four main parties (both left and right)all lost votes to smaller left parties because of the frustration people had with the then coalition government. These protest votes worked. Even though none of the smaller parties got enough seats in parliament to make a difference, they were all very left parties which told the larger parties to think left. The acting Prime Minister -from a right party- decided to choose cabinet ministers from large center-left parties.

By the way, I saw an interesting bunch of statistics on Belgium television the other day. Some economy students had looked at the American economy from the early 1900's to today and compared that with which party was running the country. It seems that generally the economy grows and becomes more stable when the Democrats are in the executive seat. They didn't mention anything about the Senate. Anyway I thought that was interesting.

Cocoa said...

I can vouch that Pres. Hinckley was most assuredly NOT a Democrat.

athena said...

i think my comments in a previous post regarding obama's rhetoric was what generated the thoughts for this one. and i think i have offended you maybe just a tad by having stated it. otherwise you would not been laconic in your response to my comment in this post. but then i am known for being an assuming creature so if that was not your intention, mea culpa. :)

now that i have time to write a response i did want to respond to my previous comments more fully. i am not one of those "dismissive of the importance of charisma and personality in a candidate" but i am careful about the rhetoric that can come with it. while rhetoric is an amiable gift in a politician, my fear about obama is that many of his ideas are very vague. i watched the debate between him and clinton and i felt that clinton was the stronger between them. she was concise on what her plans for action were whereas he kept resorting to generalising time and time again. one thing i learned from studying classical greece is the importance of words and its use in persuading others. i think dorothy sayers says it best:

"For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects."

and that's what i fear might be happening--we become prey to words in our emotions instead of being masters of them in our intellects. i'm not directing this at you. i'm just saying this in general about all the candidates and we as voters (even if i myself am not able to vote yet). rhetoric is a wonderful tool but if we, those who are on the other end, resort to our emotions in responding to it (and i know that using our emotions is important in many instances) rather than our intellect, then that is just as dangerous.

obama has the least experience of all the candidates. having said that i've poured over his website and one thing that has struck me about him is that he is encouraging and welcoming of feedback from citizens, therefore seeming more willing (of all the candidates) to listen.

Calandria said...

Athena, I had to look back through the comments to find what you think may have offended me. I assure you, it did not. I didn't take your comments about Obama to be offensive at all--I agree with what you said. He is a great rhetorician and is also too vague. I can see now what you were thinking when you read the Charisma most--truly, I did not know why you were confused by it and i was not trying to be laconic. Now I see that you may have thought I was being condescending or something when I talked about how "civilized" we all are. No, I really meant it!

Anyway, I agree that Obama needs to get more specific, and I think he will. He is not very experienced, though he has more years in an elected position than Clinton does.

athena said...

i've been reading obama's thoughts on all his policies on his website. he gets pretty specific about his plan of action there. he kind of reminds me of olivier---olivier is very liberal when it comes to parenting. before he makes a decision (which can take a very long time in most cases) he likes to hear all sides of the story and then weigh the pros and cons. so that's what comes to mind when i read obama's policies. nothing quite written in concrete.

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