“Nobody Cares About Pretty Speeches!”

From a student’s essay: “In the story, people vote for the candidate just because he makes a very good speech and they fall for the beautiful words he uses. This would never happen in real life. People vote on issues, not because one candidate speaks better and is more charming than the other candidates.”

This kind of youthful optimism and faith in humanity bring tears to my eyes. I feel so old and cynical by my students’ side.

8 thoughts on ““Nobody Cares About Pretty Speeches!”

  1. I’m sure your student never heard of George W. Bush, and people who voted for him because they could relate to him, and/or felt like he was somebody they could have a beer with. Or about Howard Dean, whose run in the 2004 Democratic primaries was over because of the the speech he gave in Iowa, where he “scream” so therefore, he was obviously unstable. Geez…


    1. Democratic primaries was over because of the the speech he gave in Iowa, where he “scream”

      This is mostly a myth. His run for the presidency was over chiefly because he lost the Iowa primaries that he wasn’t supposed to. People forget that the scream was part of that concession speech. Had he been in the lead he could have survived the verbal gaffe.


    2. Re voting for Bush and other candidates people can “relate” to — that’s actually how both “sides” do things here in the USA. Democrats — well, let’s say liberals and progressives — tend to be more attracted by things that are supposed to signal intelligence, so they are susceptible to clever speeches. To liberals intelligence is the most important thing — this is why so many of them give short shrift to things like “moral” lifestyles and behavior, traditional values, athleticism, etc. That’s because they know that “moral” behavior often conceals hypocrisy and bigotry, traditional values are often repressive, and jocks bullied them in high school. They also look with suspicion on the “common man” even though they may speak abstractly of caring for the workers and the poor — that is because the “common man” is often also uneducated and boorish. Therefore a candidate with a “common touch” is unimportant to them — they want a candidate that can impress people with his mind so they can show him off, kind of like rich guys show off their trophy wives.

      Conservatives, on the other hand, are suspicious of mere intelligence, regarding morality, traditional values, and being into some sort of sports or other outdoor activity as more important. This is because many so-called intelligent people have been, if not actively the cause, then supportive or at least admiring of some of the worst atrocities in history. (For example: Communism had a great many admirers in the upper IQs, and Marx and Engel weren’t exactly dummies. Even today, many extremely intelligent persons are not willing to give up their dream of a Worker’s Paradise.) They see things like traditional values as a check on the crazy things eggheads are always dreaming up to “better” society. As for the sports thing, that’s based on the idea that staying indoors all the time pouring over books will make you feeble and sickly. America is still a frontier country at least in mentality, and we think that you need some sort of regular exercise out in the “fresh air.” Also, sports builds “team work” and some conservatives think that being alone is as dangerous as being shut up in a library all day — you’ve gotta be part of a “team” or you’ll turn into some kind of crank. This is why conservative voters will pick a candidate that has a folksy, I’m-just-like-you shtick. It’s as much of an act as the smart, sophisticated, cosmopolitan guy, but it makes conservatives feel warm and comfy — here’s a guy who understands them, who won’t let the government do anything weird that will upset their lives.


      1. “This is because many so-called intelligent people have been, if not actively the cause, then supportive or at least admiring of some of the worst atrocities in history.”

        – Some seemingly intelligent people might have supported some atrocities. Yet all stupid uneducated people have supported and perpetrated all atrocities. Stalin and Hitler never got any education and, as soon as they got power, burned books and persecuted intellectuals. Everything good in this world has been created by intelligent, highly educated people. Everything bad has been done by stupid anti-intellectual people.

        “This is why conservative voters will pick a candidate that has a folksy, I’m-just-like-you shtick”

        – What, like the millionaire Mitt Romney with his “We are not even that rich, we only have 50 limousines” bimbo?


      2. I forgot to mention that the communists et al would never have come to power without the support of the uneducated masses. But I’m trying to illustrate an attitude underlying conservative thought, not saying I agree with it! (Not 100%, anyway.) Also, I’m talking about perception of what intelligence is, not what it actually is. Sorry I didn’t make it any clearer.

        Re Mitt Romney: he definitely can’t run on the “common touch” idea. All he has is the “I’m a Mormon, therefore pro- family values, traditional values.” (Most Americans think that while Mormonism might be a little odd, its practitioners are all clean-cut family and hard work folk. Personally I find the entire American obsession with Family™ cloying, unrealistic, and not a little creepy.) Anyway, this might be why conservatives this time around seem so underenthused about the election. I’m not seeing a lot of real support for Romney, instead it seems to be more of him being the not-Obama than anything. See, people liked Bush’s folksy “you don’t have to be smart to be important” act, but it was an act — the man wore expensive Italian suits and came from money. But they really liked Reagan — he was like the Ultimate Grandpa to so many Americans and to a lot of them he’s still practically God. I will say that he was a pretty good actor; he played a great villain in The Killers.


  2. He’s so young, so naive, so full of faith.
    Maybe we can still have hope. Maybe the future generations will truly believe that one votes on issues not on how charming a candidate is and will actually act accordingly.


  3. At least some citizens vote because a candidate promises to address their issues. Problem is, once a candidate becomes a president he can do whatever he wants and do not honor his promises. The same thing applies to whole parties.
    Remember, before voting for a candidate (again) check what he said before and what he managed to accomplish… (“Peace Nobel Prize” Obama, lol).


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