It is nice to be liked and wonderful to be loved and as a politician it is always pleasant to be one or the other.
President Piñera has just passed (on March 11) the halfway mark of his four-year presidency and President Obama is warming up to take on the Republican nominee – as yet undecided.
The rhetoric in both countries would have us believe we are being governed by incompetent halfwits whose sole purpose is to survive their presidential term, or (in Mr. Obama’s case) win reelection, and ultimately secure a noble position in history.
Campaigning has already started in Chile and some 10 individuals within the parties comprising the opposition coalition are jostling for press time and upward movement in the polls.
In the U.S.A., the Republican candidates seem to be doing such a wonderful job of character assassination on their rivals that there will be little left for Obama to attack when the real campaign, leading up to the November election, gets underway.
What seems to be common in both countries is the lack of grass roots support for both incumbent presidents. Recent polls suggest that (almost) nobody loves Mr. Piñera – despite the continued strength of the Chilean economy and lower jobless rate – but then nobody loves any of the “traditional” leaders of the opposition either!
At the same time, there appears to be a lack of loving support for Mr. Obama but, then again, not one of the Republican aspirants has generated much affection; it has been more a question of voting for the lesser of two, three or four evils.
So where does this leave us? Mr. Piñera has just under two years of his four-year mandate to implement, successfully, all the promises made during his campaign; it is actually less since he will effectively lose power after the presidential election in November 2013.
At the time of writing, Chile is experiencing an unprecedented level of social unrest which is likely to continue throughout 2012. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama faces very tough choices on Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the vitally important need to put fire back into the economy before voters go to the polls on November 6.
So, why are our current leaders (Piñera and Obama) and almost all of those offering themselves for public dissection so unloved? Very simple; voters have learned not to be suckered by smooth-talking politicians who promise everything. Instead, they will measure candidates or presidents against a simple graph of what they offer versus what they deliver and “I really don’t want to listen to your excuses”!
Perhaps Piñera offered to do too much during his four-year tenure and maybe Obama was not, and has not been, specific enough about his promises and accomplishments. Regardless, anyone who expects to win the top job in either country will get there because people believe he or she will deliver what they promise. And if you win, keep the boxing gloves on after the electoral fight because there will be many a battle to come.
Yes, times are tough and economies are under threat. Globalization is all very well, providing the downside (job losses, higher inflation, market uncertainties, etc.) doesn’t affect ME.
But those who, for whatever motive, aspire to the highest office in the land do so (I hope) knowing they must deal with extremely complex issues and not just to be praised for rescuing miners, or for reaching an agreement on the nation’s indebtedness.
If you want to be loved, become a great comedian or philanthropist – perhaps even a pediatrician, author, singer or sports personality. In the words of the great Bard of Avon, the game of politics is more a “Comedy of Errors” and sometimes, as Julius Caesar would remind us, your own loyal supporters will cut you down if the will of the Senate is not being properly served.
How high can the mighty fall? Well, it depends on the height of the pedestal they have built for themselves. There is no longer room for love in politics or government, just a solid performance. Perhaps our leaders should learn to be happy with “respect and acceptance” and, finally, a sincere thank-you for a job well done.
I remain naively optimistic about the future and humanity’s ability to pick a winner…
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