Elections are now about leaders not policy.
Elections in the UK (and elsewhere such as the USA) are increasingly more about style over substance and more about leaders rather than their policy. Our headlines are more and more about the person not the party. Gordon Brown has asked the electorate to trust him and give labour another look (or a fourth look), and with his interview with Piers Morgan he was obviously making the election a very personal battle. Meanwhile Cameron has been throughout his time as leader of the conservatives at pains to show himself as a family man in touch with middle England. However the election will be as much based on negative images of the leaders as good: Labour charge that Cameron has no substance, while Brown is accused of being the Westminster bully.
Yes but elections have always been like that
This is nothing new. The whole electoral process is designed to only clue people/the-public/voters in on candidates chosen by favorite-ed parties vying/working to get their guy/person/candidate/runner elected.
And elections are about speeches which are really about being impressive:nice voice,nice look, sounding sincere,body-language. The material of the speech is not even half as important as its tone(sounds/seems noble/poetic/sincere.
A politician can't say "Hey I'll cut costs on utilities and the money will come out of funding for a few rare and obscure disease-research that has not unlike cancer and AIDS reached celebrity-status. Yeah and I plan to uh um y'know cut down on war funding and concentrate on infrastructure development. Maybe stop talking about immigration/racism and work what we need, we need qualified people, except we don't produce them or enough of them so we get them from elsewhere. I could start spending on helping locals become qualified but I'll have to take that money out of somewhere else too. So to be honest it's a zero-sum game if we shift funding into one area we're taking it out from somewhere else: in other words winning here means losing there the trick however to emphasize on wins and claim that you:the public want them and set aside the losses as if they never happened until you start complaining about not getting enough from sectors we're taking money out of."
No, that would never win any votes it's about slogans like "Yes we can!"
and romantic-monologue/passionate-appeal/harnessing-the-audience-keeping-it-involved/unification "We the people" "friends Romans countrymen, lend me your ears" (though that's Shakespeare not a polit)
in America it's all about referring to the struggle of attaining the capitalist American dream, soaring for unattainable/unachievable acmes and saying "America/Great/achievement" a lot. "So,my fellow Americans ask not what your country can do, but what you can do for your country"
Fact is people don't and never will care about policies and long-terms effects. All they care about is, I hate these parts of the systems(part A) and am happy with these. (part B)
So politicians promise to put more money into part A and forget to mention they're taking it out from part. And then when in a few years/decades part B suffers and part A is doing pretty; the process is reversed. So policies do not really matter during the election; specific decisions at specific times do.
Obama's/democratic-party's policy: no more war
Decisions: the war's still going on.
Policy does not actually matter, voting for someone you trust and believe in because of his/her speech-reciting-skills does; because you'll have to blindly trust policy makers to make whatever decisions they want;whenever, anyway because there is "no" vote on each and every important climactic decision.
policy changes after the election are ubiquitous beyond control everywhere; because the public does not have control over anything except for electing leaders who will make our decisions for us.
party-politics is all about favourite parties and not so-much the leaders they've elected. And parties are favored on the basis of policy. Whether their appointed leaders follow through on those policies or not is somewhat irrelevant.
Point is, if you go with republican/Grand-Old party you prefer their health plan or prefer most of their policies over the democrats.
We need likeable leaders
Due to technology the world has become increasingly integrated. We have large international organisations and groupings. In our own terms we can think of the Commonwealth and more importantly the European Union. In order to maintain a strong relationship in these institutions we need leaders who are likeable. We need personable leaders who are able to influence other world leaders in order to see that Britain’s interests are look after. What better way of choosing such a leader to secure Britain’s interests than by a popularity contest. If Britain finds a leader likeable and believable, so will other influential people around the globe.
We obviously need people who other leaders can get on with as personal politics has been becoming ever more important in a globalised world where leaders can see each other face to face much more regularly. However this does not mean that we should look at leaders more than policy. People who may be really bad on TV or even the election trail more generally may get on very well with other leaders on a personal level.
There are also questions about how necessary it is to have close relations with other leaders. At the moment Obama is showing that it is possible to be very popular while not having any really close relations with other global leaders.[[http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/29/all_the_presidents_friends]]
No it's party first leader second
and parties are judged on past policies(implementation included) and on family/friends/filial favoritism(we're Tories/conservatives/labour aficionados alternatively we're historically democrats/republicans).
Very few people are 'maybes' who shift from one party to another come election time(these people listen to party policies); of course these people determine who wins.
And charisma counts when you're running for party leader, because all the running candidates for the same party have similar policies.
Yes, but once parties choose their leaders, leaders have to win over the "maybe"s.
That means no more party-politics but personality competitions:
people care about who's going to lead them: they want that person to be superficially impressive.
Such as in the case of Terry the ex-football captain: people didn't care about his-credentials/how-well-he-played/policies, people cared about his personal life,reputation and whether they wanted to be represented by an alleged adulterer.
- the reason people don't care about policy is because there's no assurance it will be followed through on and also that we don't ever know the nitty gritty details of policy(and do-not-have-the-time-&-energy-to-find-them-out).
More than half of what any government does is under-the-hood/classified. It's ridiculous to expect us/the-public to make educated-guesses without guessing.
Leaders are about policy!
Politics is not just about the best policy, but the strongest policy. The strongest policy is the one which most people are likely to follow. Most people are likely to follow policies set by likeable leaders. Therefore we have a two tone effect of likeable leaders. They create polices which they charm people into following. This in turn becomes a good policy as most people follow it and agree with it, so it creates strength and solidarity. Thus by voting for a popular leader, you are also voting for strong policies.
Leaders are not just about policy. Indeed they are becomming increasingly less about policy. Ken Clarke, and indeed almost all the others in the race to be conservative leader had much more policy that Cameron. Indeed he is still very policy light and is still leading in the polls.
Gordon Brown has also had accusations against him that while he comes up with plenty of policies he has no broader policy vision, nothing that connects policy together. This can be shown by his attempting to show that he is more human with interviews like he gave to Piers Morgan. That such a person who should be much stronger on politics that personality is focusing a lot on areas like his honesty shows how much politics has swung to being about personality of the leaders rather than policy.
What do you think?