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Mushy Center

by Sudhama Ranganathan Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2012 at 5:37 AM
uconnharassment@gmail.com

In politics the tendency for candidates to move to the center when things get tough for them has become increasingly popular. The move helps them to side step and deflect heat coming at them from things that they have done or that have been done to them causing their popularity to wane. It also can appease a segment of folks that typically are not their constituency when members of their own base are looking at them unfavorably in hopes of making up lost ground regarding supporters. Come election time this can be especially important as it can help garner support. However, this still requires strong support from at least most of your base, and when they are fed up with a politician it is usually a good idea to get them behind that person to have not only guaranteed votes, but so as to look as if you are who you say you are. Bizarre schizophrenic personality shifts that try and say “I am no longer the person I was just four years ago” can seem – off.

When a politician starts their original campaign making things not as much about their personality as the issues, this can be different. In such cases for them to develop more of a personality can be a good thing. If they won on the issues the emergence of a stronger or strengthening character profile can be helpful to them. As their tenure continues we get to know them better.

When a politician wins their original election based on personality, for the most part we expect, whatever their decisions as they go along, for there to be a modicum of consistency to the personality we saw during the first election, or at least a continuation with some growth here and emerging facets there. But a 360? A complete shift in dynamic? That can be a little unsettling.

Maybe, maybe if they were somewhat of a rough edged person when they were elected and then soften up or present a more personable, sophisticated and affable side later on – that may be acceptable and perhaps even a welcome thing. But, to move in the opposite direction? That can come across as odd. If your entire first campaign was based on that personality or character, and then just four years later you try to just be some other guy – one without much of a definition even, that can be just plain weird.

If a person were elected and we believed them to be “that guy” the guy that was gonna change things or die trying to change things that we believed in our hearts was so sincere, and it brought tears to our eyes when we thought about it - we obviously invested a lot in that person's personality. At such a time for whatever the reasons were endemic to that time, we believed that person to be whoever they portrayed themselves to be. They said it, we wanted to believe it, and we did believe it. “Trust me, count on me, have faith in me and I will come through for you because like you I believe in a better future for us all” are the sorts of pronouncements that convince people not only in the issues espoused, but also convince them of the personality and in investing in the politician in question, through a blind leap of faith to an extent.

Once that happens, you kinda have to be “that person.” To suddenly turn around and say, “hey guys, remember that passion and electricity I imbued in all who heard me speak last time around? I think I left that personality in a coat closet in France last time I was there or something. Either way it's gone. It's now four years later and a new personality has emerged from me and you better get used to it or you can go get stuffed” can be disconcerting if that makes sense. Truth is, any person over fourteen years old will most likely understand how that's strange.

In such situations, for people that used such an electrifying and dynamic personality to pull us in and as a large part of convincing us to vote for them, to switch up suddenly looks odd, and sorry but people aren't gonna buy the idea you stepped into a phone booth and came out another superhero. “Tada!!!!” (crickets).

When the issues associated with that particular politician are tied into that personalty so closely and the following that personage garnered becomes so invested in their personality, such an odd lurch can really be a strange thing to pull on people, especially people that thought you were “that guy.” To turn around and say “that guy? No I'm this guy!” can be unsettling.

If perhaps you are trying to find a way to say “okay, things didn't work out the way I planned, but don't lose faith in me” you can do that without people electing you as one person and then just four years later you turning around and say, “oh no I'm not that guy any longer. Nope, just fours years out and I'm toooootaly different. Yup.” For the politician that can't see that, perhaps a psychiatrist and a break from public life altogether may be in order.

As strange as it may sound, it could just be a stronger position to just level with folks. “Hey things didn't go the way I expected them to altogether this time around” or “I am still working on these things, in the meantime here's what I did do.” Just make sure, if you are going to do that, the record reflects that and doesn't show you were elected saying one thing then mushed in and did the polar opposite when insiders, advisors and other political figures caused pressures to mount. Or even worse that the whole thing was one big carnival barker act and you weren't even close to the guy we elected; just knew how to play him real good. In that case, all these actors thinking about running for office nowadays might as well.

That is because, if what we need now most are people that can wave their hands to get us looking over there so the establishment can do what it likes where we aren't looking, they are much better qualified than law school grads, poli sci majors, history majors or anybody else, of course it would prove just how badly the American people really need true representation more than ever from a diverse range of places.

For were that the case, the game truly would have become the point and objectives, issues and the governed will have become quaint notions and outdated words at least with regards to American politics and the bible from which the American political system finds its compass (no offense to any actors intended). At that point our votes will actually be what they really are starting to feel like - wasted on a system that does what it wants and mushy centered representatives afraid of rocking the boat and truly making good on their promises to us, that instead simply acquiesce to playing their little bit in the drama and nothing more.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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