So this is it then.
We have finally come to the point in politics where leadership is irrelevant.
And worse yet – marketing and media are creating our candidates.
In the past, candidates had platforms and directions and their focus was on moving the population to follow their vision for that country.
In those days, the movement was created with minimal media intervention, as the political advertising machine had not yet been invented. Best of all, there were very few spin-doctors around to interpret what the candidate said, or to to tell us what we should think.
And in the process, true leaders emerged – leaders that motivated the population and did their constituents proud. Yet under today’s media scrutiny, many of those candidates might not even have been elected (go back in history and take a look at some of the greatest leaders – can you imagine the fun media outlets would have had attacking those individuals when they were just candidates?).
Turn to today, and what do we have?
- Campaigns filled with hyperbole and personal attacks.
- Candidates refusing to answer legitimate questions, or to even provide a semblance of a vision for what they are intending to do.
- Highly paid spin-doctors that completely ignore what was said – while trying to tell us what we should think/believe.
- And finally, advertising campaigns that are devoid of any true substance or vision.
The entire focus of the campaign is to “create a brand” not to lead a country. The dialogue is focused on sound bites and “repeatables” and managing the image – not about the candidate’s ideas, or passion or vision. The concept of “celebrity” and fame has taken over from the need for a leader. The process has gotten so out of hand that political ideologies take a back seat to all of the hubris.
Naturally, this new process includes an aggressive advertising campaign – in many cases focused on repackaging a bad product. Traditional and new media vehicles are used to create the positioning. Media outlets are willing accomplices in the process, waiting patiently to report every statement, outburst and attack – recognizing that a good sound bite is so much better for ratings than a true vision for the country.
And the final participant in the process is the public. The reality TV driven audience that feeds off scandal and conflict. That watches for its news and its entertainment in quick clips. And most importantly, that doesn’t demand these politicians be held to a higher standard – and as a by-product – doesn’t expect anything more from them during the election. Even the concept of having a candidate caught openly lying is no longer a deal breaker in the campaign.
As a result, we get the politicians we create. But make no mistake; in the process, we are not getting leaders.