For those of who live somewhere else on this planet of ours, Great Britain aka the United Kingdom aka England...bloody hell, why do we have so many names?! ...Anyway, we British types are about to have our general election.
On May 6th people all over the country will be entering a polling booth and putting a mark next to their candidate of choice and so will a new government be born, we hope. However, one theme that I keep hearing from journalists, print, radio & television, is their concern that politics, and more specifically the election, is fast becoming a game of personalities over policies. This is generally spoken of in what I feel is a rather superior, smug tone that tells you in no uncertain terms that they will be voting based solely on the candidates policies.
Well, how lovely for them. I started thinking, what do I look for in a candidate? Am I persuaded by personality or policy or both? And if it is personality alone that hooks me, is that a bad thing?
No, I don't believe it is a bad thing. I believe an ideal would be to pay close attention to both but if I make my decision based on my perception of their personality it is a valid use of my vote. Why? Well, a big part of our personalities is our collection of values, morals and beliefs with which we face the world and make decisions. In an ever changing world I use the moral compass that my upbringing, learning and experience has given me to decide what's right, what's wrong and what's somewhere inbetween.
When I base my voting decision on personality, it isn't a case of 'ooh he has a nice smile'. It's about my belief that this candidate seems to share my values, my view of the world. I say belief because we never entirely know what goes on in what Terry Pratchett so poetically calls 'the darkness behind the eyes'.
Today's news is full of Gordon Brown's microphone gaff in which, forgetting that he had a mic pinned to his lapel, made a critical remark about a voter he had just spent some time with. This has of course created an uproar about the difference between his public and private face. Let me tell you something, our public faces are no less a part of us than our private faces. Ian Dunt, editor of the excellent Politics.co.uk, has written a very eloquent article addressing the hypocrisy of the media in holding Mr. Brown to standards that few human beings achieve in a lifetime.
Okay, I'm getting off my point so back to it.
My point is this, policies change, the world is ever changing. Basing my vote purely on policies that may well prove unrealistic, no longer necessary or even based upon flawed reasoning seems foolish. However, if I choose a candidate based on my perception of his/her personality or put another way, the collection of values and beliefs that forms the core of their decision making selves then at least I know that regardless of what the world throws at us this person will make a decision based upon a similar set of values to my own.
What more can I realistically ask for in so uncertain a world?