Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Friday, May 19, 2017

Charisma - Who Needs It? By Guest Author @JennyTwist1

The BBC news reporter was interviewing a woman about the upcoming general election and she said she would not vote for Corbyn because he had ‘no charisma’.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard before, of course but this time it suddenly struck me what an extraordinary thing it was to say.

I don’t agree with that woman’s opinion – I don’t suppose for one moment that a man with no charisma could win landslide victories in two leadership elections and then go on to increase the Labour Party membership by more than double, making it the largest political party in Europe. Maybe that lady has not seen footage of his rallies. Corbyn is pulling in crowds of thousands.

But I digress. How extraordinary is it that charisma should be considered the most important asset in a politician? I would have thought experience and competence should carry more weight. Surely his ability to do the job is the most important thing here.

If charisma is what makes a good politician, why don’t we just elect film stars and talk show hosts?
There have, of course, been great charismatic leaders in the past – Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, to name but a few. And right now we seem to have more than our share springing up throughout the world – Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-Un. Yet, somehow, I am not reassured by their charisma. It seems to me that too much charisma breeds a desire to start wars rather than a desire to make the world a better place for the people who elected you.

Personally, I’d rather my leader spent the budget on health care, housing and education than on nuclear bombs. I’d rather my sons live to collect their pensions than that they should die gloriously in battle.

But if charisma is what you want, by all means vote for May. I’ll see you in the fallout shelter. 

About Jenny Twist

Jenny Twist was born in York and brought up in the West Yorkshire mill town of Heckmondwike, the eldest grandchild of a huge extended family.
She left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and escapologist’s assistant (she was The Lovely Tanya), she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history, at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.
She stayed in Oxford working as a recruitment consultant for many years and it was there that she met and married her husband, Vic.
In 2001 they retired and moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, knitting and attempting to do fiendishly difficult logic puzzles.
She has written three novels - Domingo’s Angel – a love story set in Franco’s Spain and harking back to the Spanish Civil War and beyond - and All in the Mind – a contemporary novel about an old woman who mysteriously begins to get younger and The Owl Goddess.
She has contributed short stories to many other anthologies, of which two –Doppelganger and Uncle Vernon have been released as short ebooks.

Other works include the Mantequero series: novellas about a Spanish mythological figure, and An Open Letter to Stephen King & Other Essays, a compilation of non-fiction essays and articles.  Her latest novella, The Minstrel Boy, was published in the anthology Letters from Europe in 2016.


Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Lyn. Greatly appreciated. xxxx

ManicScribbler said...

Thank you Jenny,
It's always a pleasure to hand my blog over to you. You always have something incisive to say and you're welcome any time.

Mary Thornburg said...

"If charisma is what makes a good politician, why don’t we just elect film stars and talk show hosts?"

Oh, the irony. Why not, indeed? We've been doing that in the U.S. for years. Reagan in 1980 and '84, and look how well that turned out -- people stranded high and dry, as the economy trickled away from them, cherished their memories of charismatic movie hero Ronnie and could hardly wait for the opportunity to vote for an even more charismatic leader, "reality"-TV star Donald! The way that works is simple: all cameras focus on Mr. Charisma while part of his not-so-charismatic enablers work to keep him awake and semi-cognizant and the rest beaver away at stealing whatever money and rights the people bedazzled by him have left.

I suppose that all started a long time before television was invented, but arguably it kicked into high gear when Nixon lost to Kennedy because his five-o'clock shadow in the TV debates made him look like a low-level mafia thug. Hillary Clinton came close to winning in 2016, but what tipped her over the edge finally wasn't so much her emails and her policy but her voice (too shrill), her perceived personality (too "unlikable") and her looks (too female). Just my opinion, of course.

ManicScribbler said...

Well said, Mary I'll leave Mrs T. to answer properly, since this is her post.
Thank you so much for popping over and making such an apposite contribution to the blog.

Tara Fox Hall said...

Interesting ideas !

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Mary, I knew the irony wouldn't be lost on you!

Love and hugs


Jenny Twist said...

Tar! Yes, it's like the Chinese curse, isn't it? May you live in interesting times.
But we'll get through it.
Loads of love


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