Another aspect of the Presidential campaign that has been on my mind lately is the factor to which building a cult of personality plays into it. To be blunt, there is no John Kerry cult of personality. There are people who are trying to create one — for example, I’m seeing pro-Kerry web sites refer to him as “Big John” more and more. There’s already a strong George W Bush cult of personality, and both Howard Dean and Wesley Clark seemed to have similar cults during the Democratic primary season.
Obviously no American politician enjoys a personality cult like the ones described in the Wikipedia article that I linked to above, but there are people who become so reverent about politicians that they no longer worry about how the politician proposes solving particular problems or how they perform on their job because of the level of trust they have developed. They simply assume that their leader will do the right thing, and thus absolve themselves of the need to verify that the leader is actually doing the right thing. I don’t want to see any leader that way. I don’t care if the President is a Republican or a Democrat, my assumption is that they’ll probably screw just about everything up to some degree. Our political system is at its best when people see things that way.
I fear that the George W Bush cult of personality is what’s going to win him this election. At the same time, if Kerry has to build a personality cult to defeat Bush, I’d just as soon as see him lose. Why can’t we live in a country of grown ups? The President is a man with a job to do, not a cure for all that ails us.