A question of Character and personality. Strategies and tactics

di Joe Volpe del 19 September 2019

TORONTO - Elections are little more than a “consultation of the public mood” in the ongoing business of governing a country and building a society. A momentary distraction from the riveting obligations of every-day life.

In effect, those political leaders and Parties vying for our attention are like actors on stage, playing out a dramatic performance for our pleasure and approval. They crave our positive judgement for that brief reprieve from the tedium, or enjoyment, of life but they don’t come home with us after the performance.

It’s just for show. Obfuscation reigns supreme. Personality – the visible outward appeal – nearly always trumps Character, substance – the enduring traits that define the worthiness of the player (and the audience, us by extension).

The nagging question is always the same: do we want Leaders with “personality” or those with “character”. Which do we “take home to Mother”? Shop around, says mom.

The Press/Media and Pollsters won’t make the decision for us, try as they might. The Globe and Mail kicked off the opening scene with a scathing issue on the failure of Character (the SNC Lavalin scandal), deception and out-right lying in public office.

We, the public, counter by asking “are there redeeming qualities”, like competence, goals strategic vision that include the country …us? Hiding behind social media anonymity, online trolls – “tekkies for hire”, modern day mercenaries - respond with tactical issues of moral relevance with what other personalities have said or done in the distant past. You know, … I saw the preacher coming out of house of tolerance when he was…

Their “more scientific” (barely) cousins – pollsters – can’t wait to give us a day by day account of who’s winning the race to avoid the latest fabricated “slip-up”. God help us. If Donald Trump hiccups, Boris Johnson passes air or Bibi Netanyahu sneezes, they measure the impact on the Canadian electorate.

These are not paragons of virtue who bring discredit to their own people. How they succeed in getting elected is a testament to the lack of character on the part of those who voted for them and to the electoral system that makes room for cunning scoundrels of their ilk. These manipulate a disinterested (apathetic) and unsuspecting (uninformed) public to their own ends – exclusively.

Trump’s amorality seems to appeal to the religious Right; Johnson’s to virtually nobody, but he has control of the reins. Netanyahu, facing potential conviction on a series of charges including corruption, graft and abuse of power, just received a second electoral setback at the ballot box in six months. He has, surprisingly, managed to “drape himself in the flag”: to criticize him is akin to being anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.

The Israeli electorate (at a 64% voter turnout) seems a little smarter than that, giving him barely 18% of all eligible votes. There is now way to mask the issues forever. Unmasking them is what an election campaign is about. That is also one of the objectives of televised debates. Why have they not scheduled one targetting the multilingual community comprising 7.2 million Canadians.

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