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Conviction in life and politics
Definition—Conviction; the state of being convinced, a firmly held belief, opinion, etc.
Convince defined as: to make someone agree or realise the truth of something.
Conviction is very different from faith, although often the effect is the same. Faith is believing something without evidence; believing it because you are told to; while conviction is believing something because you have seen evidence that proves the truth that supports this belief. There is a line in an old British sitcom, Waiting for God, where the lead character said, “faith is that which allows you to make the leap from the unbelievable to the downright ridiculous.” Political parties that ask you have faith in them, their leaders, and some vague policy statements need careful examination.
Journalists used to describe some politicians as being promoters of “conviction politics” but I have not seen that term used for some time. Seeing the way just about every political figure seeks popularity by changing with every fad and fashion, it is easy to see why the term is not used. A politician with absolute conviction about the policies required to improve the nation for all citizens is now so rare. Some of the reasons for the decline in conviction politics have to be the way all media has changed with the growth of “social media.” The instant reaction, much of which is obviously artificial and manipulated, to any comments, even—or maybe especially—when taken out of context has led every journalist and every politician to resort to spin and deliberate obscuring of clear definite policy statements. If nothing is clear then criticism can be diverted by claiming the comment was misinterpreted. A conviction politician would not care about criticism. They would make a clear statement and accept criticism by offering evidence and reasoned arguments to support the statement. A conviction politician welcomes opposition, as this gives opportunity to express the arguments and to show the reasoning behind the conviction. A politician unwilling to engage with opposing views has no conviction about the truth behind their policy pronouncements. The decline in conviction politics has to be, at least partly, explained by the rise of “professional” politicians. Politicians who have been in politics from a young age, through university studies of “political science” to working for a union or a political party, then being selected as a candidate for an election. Conviction politicians have a very different pathway to such candidature for elections. A professional politician is constantly checking the latest opinion polls to see how they should phrase or word their next public utterance. A conviction politician never wavers in their position. They are not swayed by popularity.
We talk of law courts convicting the guilty, and those in prison are called convicts. But these words mean found guilty of breaking the law. It does not necessarily mean the person is unjust or wicked; they may be, but that is not why they are being punished. The conviction in law courts indicates the court, judge and jury, were convinced of guilt. Modern politics is rather like modern law enforcement. It is not truth and justice that is the objective, it is getting a result. Getting a conviction, getting elected. The moral certainty that justice is done no longer makes up even a part of law courts or politician's objectives. Promises are made, to get another 2 points in an opinion poll and then discarded without any reluctance or remorse. Just as the law enforcement agencies will seek ways to convict a person they suspect, but do very little to check the true justice of a situation, so present day politicians will use innuendo to discredit an opponent rather than rationally argue against that opponent's policies.
As voters we need to stop valuing appearance, stop taking notice of the trivial gossip, and start examining policy and any evidence shown to support the proposed policy. It is the policy that will make the future good or bad. Not the public manufactured image a person presents.