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Appearance, Relationships and Politics

Are modern obsessions resulting in poor governments?

Consider how the modern obsessions with appearance and relationships, affects politics.

While these twin obsessions, growing stronger seem to have started a long way back in history. Medieval warrior aristocrats used fine banners and distinctive clothing and armor to ensure their own side knew who they were, then came uniforms so everyone in the army was recognizable to all the others on the same side. Preventing death by friendly fire. The notion of warrior nobility evolved into displays of wealth just to distinguish the wealthy from the poor.

When we began to have a “Fashion” industry and the need to sell increasing amounts of clothing, especially after World War 2, the marketing people were very clever; they promoted the idea that if you were wealthy enough to buy clothes you had to buy that which was noticeable and certainly distinguished from home spun clothing. They next promoted the concept of fashion seasons, so changes of clothes were needed; not just an extra layer if out side in winter. They then hit the jackpot, last years clothes should not be worn, if you wanted to be appreciated, you must have new clothes at least twice a year and last years must be binned, not saved to use again.

In tandem with these marketing ploys came the religious concept of controlling their adherents by imposing rules, with fines for breaking them, about how relationships should be formed and conducted.

Religion has lost its iron grip on people, but the legal profession has seen a way of making vast amounts of money by enforcing artificial constraints on human relationships. So our modern views about appearance and relationships, started up as marketing and controlling mechanisms.

We now have these manufactured social mechanisms taken to extreme lengths, the popular media makes money from fake reality shows, which are only about impossibly attractive people going on endlessly about their own appearance and their relationships. The strange devotion to “selfie” photos, the experience of any unusual activity being photographed before any hurt is comforted; the media attention to image over substance; these are all aspects of the twin obsessions. The effect on politics can be seen, if rational observation is practiced. The clothes a politician wears, even the clothes their life partner wears, are discussed in the media. This is done with the gravitas of importance, without even questioning what the fashion sense of a person has to do with their ability to govern. Extramarital sexual activity will bring down greater censorship on a political leader than a failing mental ability to comprehend global economics. Which will cause greater harm to the nation? This is not asked at all on social media, and even the professional media sticks to proclaiming horror at activities probably common among a few journalists. In one way this is OK, since the relationships of journalists does not affect their work and so is no concern of the public, but why is it brazened about as affecting the work done by a politician?

Consider the possibility that if a couple of thousand years ago, the predominant religion of the day was one that did not involve itself in interpersonal relationships. If the concept of marriage and sexual fidelity had never become an accepted “norm,” how society would have been different in our modern times. The marketing efforts would probably still impose the burdens of fashion on us, but would anyone care about the private life of a political leader? Forcing sexual attention on another person, especially on a child, would still be illegal and rightly so, but otherwise what difference would the number of relationships involved in any persons life, make to the leadership abilities of that person.

It is even more irrational to change opinions about the ability of a leader, just because some previously secret relationship, is exposed. If their ability to lead was good before the world knew of the secret, why is it suddenly not good? The relationship existed while being a good leader so that is historical fact, and can not be changed by wider knowledge of the social activities.

These twin obsessions are part of the cause of democracies having reduced standards of ability in their governance. Those with less ability than an alternative, can use their own fashionable image to gain votes while derogating the otherwise superior rival, by condemnation of personal relationships, which actually have nothing to do with the ability to govern. This results in very capable people avoiding politics, and the election of second rate governments obsessed with appearance and confidentiality. Policy and an ability to adjust to an ever changing global situation, just do not get considered by the politicians, the media or even the voters. We get mediocrity. We deserve it.

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