This Vision Thing

by doconnor

Many people, especially on the left, want politicians to have Vision. “If only we had a leader who presented Vision,” they say, “it would inspire people to vote.”

I strongly suspect is that political consultants know that Vision doesn’t work. If it did all politicians would have one. It’s not like it never occurred to politicians to present a Vision, especially since everyone talks about how much they want one. It’s not like its hard to come up with a Vision, either. Most every political activist and politician of every stripe probably already has one that they are just bustin’ to tell you about.

The problem with Vision is that everyone’s Vision is different. If politicians honestly presented their Vision almost everybody will find something in it they disagree with. It makes it easy for other candidates to point out flaws, real or imagined, in that Vision.

That’s why most politicians presents a series of disjoint and often nonsensical promises to attract enough voters to win in our first-past-the-post electoral system.

Obama: Your Vision HereThere is another strategy that is even more effective then that, although it is difficult to achieve. To become a largely blank slate on which people project their own Vision on to. The Obama campaign was the ultimate example of this. Even Rob Ford’s campaign was able to achieve this, although I suspect this was more by accident then by design.

Don’t get me wrong. I support having a Vision and if I where to run for office I would present my Vision openly and honestly. The would would be a much better place if all politicians honestly presented their Visions and votes chose the one the most closely matched theirs. By being honest from the beginning politicians would be much less likely to break their promises.

"This Vision Thing" was published on December 9th, 2010 and is listed in Politics.

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Darwin O'Connor | doconno@gmail.com