Saturday, February 1, 2020

Modern American Expectations of Political Candidates

“It was inevitable under a monarchy, however benevolent the monarch. The old virtues disappear. Independence and frankness are at a discount. Complacent anticipation of the monarch's wishes is then the greatest of all virtues. One must either be a good monarch like yourself, or a good courtier like myself—either an Emperor or an idiot.”
― Robert Graves, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina

I read this article in Crisis Magazine, President, for Life by Austin Ruse regarding a colleague and friend, Jonathan Last, executive editor of Bulwark, views on President Trump as a pro-life supporter. Long story short, Ruse feels Last's never-Trumper attitude colors his perception about the depth and sincerity of Trump's pro-life stance that in fact Trump is not pro-life insofar as Last's "seamless garment" all or nothing political interpretation would have it.

The article itself is good and in a way depicts the typical political never-Trumper view that Trump is the Orange Satan from whom absolutely nothing good comes. But what caught my attention more is the reactions in the comments section. Forget the never-Trumpers and the disdain of the mainstream moderate liberals but what I found interesting was the reaction of the moderate to moderate conservative normies. Many of them mostly support Trump but they find him to be coarse and uncouth which seems to weigh more heavily on them than Trump's competence or accomplishments.
This, I believe, is something I would call the television commercial effect.

As the prevalence of television in the American home increased since the 1950's and 60's, the method of advertisers changed from simply touting the superiority of a product as in radio to a more visual appeal. Form over function, style and slick, glossy image over the dry technical points. The look, optics and visual appeal also took root in advertising political candidates when not engaged in mud-slinging against their opponent. Kennedy was thought to have won a debate with Nixon simply because he looked more telegenic than a Nixon who was still recovering from an illness and looked pale. What viewer would have remembered the dry details of Soviet ICBMs versus U.S. ICBM's or how Castro's Cuba affects U.S. national security or which candidate was a stronger opponent of Soviet communist expansionism. John Lindsay was elected mayor of New York City in 1966 on the strength of his movie star good looks and re-elected on the same even if he was an incompetent mayor.

Gradually, the Madison Avenue Admen began marketing politicians as if they were advertising lite beer- weak, watery and flavorless. Even the mud-slinging began to be more moderated. Political candidates are now expected to be as watery and flavorless as lite beer, giving carefully worded speeches tailored to the audience's political preferences. If not answering direct questions with a yes, no and but on the other hand, politicians will either tell a particular group what they want to hear or keep the speech vague enough so like a blank screen, the audience will project their own desires onto it. Then came Donald J. Trump with  his direct, in-your-face, pull no punches style more typical of Queens, NY natives than the usual polished milquetoast politician.

Now of course, there are exceptions to the rule that pop-culture views as acceptable. People of color candidates and honorary people of color such as homosexuals and Jewish candidates are permitted to be bombastic or obnoxious and make some outrageous statements because they are considered "victims" and have the right to "fight back" against their perceived oppressors. But of course not straight, white Christian males and absolutely not ever Republicans of any type. Republicans are not permitted to even respond to any Democrat's most outrageous attacks. Nor is it ever acceptable for any politician to criticize the mainstream media. This is what television has taught generations of Americans to expect as normal and proper political debate and discourse. This is the only acceptable way for politicians to behave. And Trump breaks every one of these rules and a few more unwritten rules besides. This flummoxes the normies and puts Trump beyond the pale of civilization itself.

Normie is aghast that Trump hits back when hit, uses twitter to do an end-run around of the mainstream media and contradicts and talks back to the talking heads on the TV news. But normie is not historically aware enough to understand that in the bygone age before TV, politicians were expected to answer questions directly, explain their platform plainly and in detail, to be forthright and to stand up for himself when criticized or in debate.  And perhaps what would be considered today to be the worst sin of all, to be an unabashed nationalist and patriot supporting American interests over all others. Even up through the 1980's, giving vague yes, no and maybe answers and flip-flopping on issues was considered disingenuous and a sign of bad character. Nowadays, it's considered de rigueur for uniparty candidates and viewed as "nuanced" and somehow smart and "wonkish" by normies.

The worst part of this is that the average American is not even aware of how their perceptions of what constitutes a proper politician have been altered to suit the needs of the managerial state and to bow before the altar of globalism. All along, a slave's collar was fastened around their neck and they've been lead down the garden path into a system that works to their detriment that they're beginning to notice. For all his brashness and crudeness, Trump is the right man in the right place to break this illusion if he does nothing else. Now, if only normie would fully wake up.

Donald Cavaioli

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