Over lunch the other day, I partook of a most fascinating (and entertaining) conversation with some friends. The basic premise was imagining a politican running for office on a platform of “total political honesty.” For example:
“If I am elected, I pledge to take whatever I want from my opponents and give it to my supporters.”
“I actually have no inclination, much less passion, towards this particular issue, and I have no intention of carrying it through when I am elected. I simply make a big deal of it now because I know it is important to you all as voters.”
“I am aware that my campaign has primarily consisted of negative ads defaming my opponent. In fact, this was intentional on the part of my team and I, as psychological studies have shown that a negative perception is more effective and impacting than a positive one, thus increasing my chances of attaining your vote even if I never say a word about myself.”
“I’d rather use lots of fancy, nice-sounding words than craft good, informed arguments. Flowery language appeals to a much broader base of people.”
“My foremost goal in this campaign is to win the election. So cast your vote for me!”
And so on. Extremely tongue-in-cheek, unlikely to ever happen in earnest, but profoundly entertaining to think about.
Please do not misunderstand me; this conversation was not directed at any political figure (past or present) in particular, and is certainly far from being applicable to all political leaders today. But it did raise an interesting question in my mind: how would people react were (unlikely as it is) a politician to arise who said such things? Would any actually vote for him? How many, and for what reason? How would having such a candidate in the line-up change people’s perspective on the political process? Would it force people to reevaluate why they vote for who they vote for? Would they become more wary, more conscientious, more informed and discerning voters? Or would it be business as usual?
All I can say is, I hope that any political leader (current or yet to appear on our ballots) who runs on a platform — or principle rather — of complete political honesty will have more noble aspirations than this one.