Liberal friends of mine sometimes wonder how I can be so optimistic about Obama’s chances in the election, and yet be so cynical about politics in general. They wondered the same thing in 2008.
Basically, I support Obama, but I think he wins for the wrong reasons. It’s not his fault, though. I don’t think he can do anything about it, even if he wanted to. It’s mostly due to the charisma thing that I talk about so much, rather than his actual policies, that Obama enjoys so much success. There are always polls coming out showing more people just “like” Obama as a person than support all his policies.
It’s not just charisma–though-mostly–but all kinds of superficial factors. Imagine if Obama had all the same policies, and said all the same stuff, but instead were a short, bald, pot-bellied, bespectacled man with a high-pitched, nasal voice. I doubt he would have been elected Senator. People don’t want to support a guy like that, even if he is totally right about things. This is especially true since the advent of television.
Presidential elections aren’t really determined by policy, or ideology, or anything like that. They are determined by who has the more “likeable” candidate. The Democrats happen to have him at the moment, but the Republicans have had him in the past.
On paper, actually, Mitt Romney is a pretty good candidate for meeting the superficial requirements. He’s good-looking for a man his age–“distinguished” I think is the term–and he looks fairly tall. Decent speaking voice. His only flaw, from a superficial standpoint, is his total inability to interact normally with people. Perhaps he needs a holographic avatar to make it easier.
So, I’m quite cynical about politics, but I’m fortunate in that right now the political system seems to favor the candidate who supports the same policies I do. In the long run, however, I think this is not the ideal way to pick a President.