The Ability To Win
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
If you speak the leaders of
any major political party, they will tell you that they select their
candidates based primarily on one quality: their ability to help the
party win. Political parties take polls of voters to determine what
their concerns are. Armed with this information, they
have professional speech writers weave
these concerns into extremely persuasive sales pitches. It's like
a Madison Avenue production.
Political parties are driven by big money
interests and have an annual budget in excess of
$100,000,000. They are obligated to their donors.
We are prevented from getting to know the
candidates on a more personal, candid level. This
results in the candidate frequently having an artificial quality to his
or her personality, which is often argumentative and competitive.
The world of politics has attracted many people who are strong with
regard to salesmanship, but weak in problem solving ability.
Most people I have spoken with are unhappy
with neither major candidate. Sometimes they settle
for the 'lesser of two evils', and vote for the candidate who, far from
ideal, is the better choice. Sometimes they don't vote at all.
Sadly, a great many individuals who would be wonderful political
leaders are left by the wayside. Most people simply lack
the financial resources that they would need to get involved in
politics. They are unwilling to endure the immense social
pressures of a political campaign. You might know some people who
fall into this category. Perhaps a teacher, a friend, or a
If you observed the behind the scenes
dealings of a political party, you would see that the delegates often
act like an irrational mob. Many years ago, we actually saw this
being broadcast on television. Currently, this embarrassing
behavior is filtered out, and kept out of public view. We only see
a rehearsed and polished version of politics.
In my wanderings through life, I have
found that most people I have encountered are very troubled by the
current state of politics, but are unable to clearly define the
problem, the root cause, or the solution. They feel helpless, and doubt
that they could do anything to change the system. They simply accept
the present circumstances as 'the price we must pay for democracy.'
People often aren't very interested in political speeches and debates,
despite the fact that
candidates are usually highly animated and talk about issues that
concern everyone. Why is this? No matter how much a
candidate practices a speech, it will always sound like a sales pitch,
because that is exactly what it is: another attempt to gain votes.
If you haven't done so already, rent the movie
Amistad. This film is much more about political
values than violence. Anthony Hopkins portrays our fifth
president, John Quincy Adams. At the end of the movie, he
delivers a speech that will likely move you to tears. The
president speaks of people acting passionately for a cause, rather than
in the name of some material interest. The speech is so inspiring
because it comes from the heart. We often discount the importance
of the human soul, and its relation to the higher values of truth and
justice. But when someone is able to touch us in that special
way, it is a very moving experience.
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