So today I was watching Fareed Zacharia’s program Global Public Square (Sunday 10 AM on CNN). Not familiar with Fareed? Just think of Sean Hannity with an incredible brain, a cogent thought processes, and dark skin. Come to think of it, he isn’t anything like Sean Hannity. Anyway, Fareed was talking about the spread of populism around the world. There are elections coming in the next couple of years which may be similar to the presidential election we had here. Two important ones will be in France and Germany
This discussion referred to a study done in 2012 by Gabriel Lenz entitled “Follow the Leader: How Voters Respond to Politicians' Policies and Performance”. It was based on considerable research and data. Here is my synopsis of the concepts he presents. Voters do not select a candidate to support based on policies or positions. Voters do select who they will support based on image, performance in some arena, and charisma. Then the voters adopt the positions of those leaders. In effect, they follow the leader.
Think about this in terms of the primary election campaign, especially on the Republican party in our last election. There is no doubt that if the voters were focused on selecting a candidate based on an understanding of issues and being able (or willing) to articulate somewhat detailed plans to address them, the outcome would have been much different.
When it comes to the General Election, I don’t think this is pertinent for those who vote strictly along party lines, but for the growing list of Independents, understanding why people vote for whom they do will be critical for future elections.
My own personal wish is that we all select who we will give our precious vote to using a fact based process and that we question everything that is said, challenge positions, and encourage open minded debate with your friends. And most of all that we give the electoral process the respect it deserves.