A Guide To Candidate Archetypes, part 3
Mitt Romney: White Collar
Rick Santorum: The Grouch
Newt Gingrich: The Trail Blazer
Ron Paul: The Eccentric
Jon Huntsman: The Ambassador
Sarah Palin: The Rock Star
Buddy Roemer: The Lover
Archetype 13: Grassroots
Appeal: An anti-establishment candidate with solid support from the party rank-and-file. They are the vital lifeblood of a party.
Must guard against: Their perpetual discontent threatens to fracture the party. Everyone has their pet issue and cause, but if they all got equal attention the party platform would become unwieldy.
2012 Exemplar: Michele Bachmann. The Tea Party is the dominant grassroots movement of 2012 and she was their candidate. (The Occupy Movement doesn’t have the same influence on the race for President because Obama’s incumbency deters challenges from OWS-sympathetic candidates.)
2008 Exemplar: Mike Huckabee. He was the religious social-conservative alternative to McCain and Romney.
Pop Culture Exemplar: Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Marvin the depressed robot is constantly complaining yet still performs his duties as part of the group.
Party Advantage: None. Neither is immune to the internal conflict of Grassroots’ easily-disgruntled support.
Archetype 14: The Expert
Appeal: Knowledge. Experts seem to be a rare breed of politician. They’re more likely to be found behind the scenes as consultants and staff.
Must guard against: Seeming like an unfocused know-it-all. Their understanding of the complexity of issues can make it more difficult for them to narrowly advocate for a single point of view in a debate situation.
2012 Exemplar: Jon Huntsman. Global experience in politics and business from Utah to Asia. His Chinese name is 洪博培 (Hóng Bópéi).
2008 Exemplar: Chris Dodd. In Congress for 36 years, serving on the Committees on Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Rules and Administration; and the Joint Committee On The Library and the Commission on Security and Cooperation In Europe.
Pop Culture Exemplar: Det. Lester Freamon in “The Wire”. Epitomizing why Experts are more often found behind the scenes than out in front, Det. Freamon unimpressive façade masks a brilliant experienced mind.
Party Advantage: Democrats. Not being the anti-knowledge party has a clear benefit.
Archetype 15: The Soldier
Appeal: A relentless fighter in the war of ‘us’ against ‘them’. As journalist Chris Hedges put it - War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
Must guard against: Alienating independent voters. Inflicting friendly fire casualties in primaries. You’re either with them or against them.
2012 Exemplar: Rick Santorum. ‘This is a spiritual war.’
2008 Exemplar: Hillary Clinton. Finding themselves out-Democrated by the Obama campaign, the Clinton campaign became a de facto Republican campaign in the Democratic primary, hoping the white racist vote could put them over the top.
Pop Culture Exemplar: General ‘Buck’ Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Party Advantage: Republicans. They define their coalition by the enemies they have in common.
Archetype 16: Go With The Flow
Appeal: Adaptable. Not panicked by change or unfamiliarity.
Must guard against: Seeming scatterbrained and outside the mainstream.
2012 Exemplar: Barack Obama. He got saddled with a terrible economy, is stymied by an uncooperative Congress, slandered by Right, and unappreciated by the Left. Plus everything that’s happened in the world since January 2009. No choice but to roll with it.
2008 Exemplar: Dennis Kucinich. He supported abolishing the death penalty, integrating traditional medicine with complementary and alternative medicine, creating a cabinet-level “Department of Peace”, lowering the voting age to 16, ending the War On Drugs, legalizing same-sex marriage, legalizing medicinal marijuana and decriminalizing non-medical possession.
Pop Culture Exemplar: E.T. in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. After being stranded while on a botanical exploration, E.T. hangs out on earth for a while and learns about humans.
Party Advantage: Democrats, because they are not as easily disgusted by unfamiliar things:
Participants [in a study] who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, issues that are related to notions of morality or purity. The researchers also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues.
Archetype 17: The Trendsetter
Appeal: A strong personal vision for how things should be.
Must guard against: Seeming (or being) dictatorial. Their way or the highway.
2012 Exemplar: Ron Paul has frequently taken positions in direct opposition to the other members and the leadership of the party, and he has sometimes publicly questioned whether he really belonged in the party. In 2012, Paul again asserted that he was participating in the Republican Party on his own terms, trying to persuade the rest of the party to move toward his positions rather than joining in with theirs.
2008 Exemplar: Ron Paul
Pop Culture Exemplar: Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man. The autistic character in Rain Man may not seem like a Trendsetter in the conventional sense, but he spends the whole movie getting things his way, no matter how eccentric his inflexible demands.
Party Advantage: None. Republicans lack the imagination necessary for a vision, while Democrats lack the will to make the vision a reality.
Archetype 18: Dr. Gandalf
Appeal: A doctor, teacher and mentor who diagnoses and treats the country’s ills thanks to his knowledge.
Must guard against: Making misdiagnosis and giving bad advice.
2012 Exemplar: Barack Obama. His rhetoric and actions toward political reform are matched with a political savvy that often includes a measure of expediency, giving him the image of both compassion and cunning. In another sense, his Dr Gandalf persona has been referred to by David Ehrenstein and others as Obama the ‘Magic Negro’:
Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn’t project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.
2008 Exemplar: Hillary Clinton. The first First Lady to hold a postgraduate degree she had a reputation as an intelligent social activist.
Pop Culture Exemplar: Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The mysterious wizard aids our heroes on their quest.
Party Advantage: Democrats. Easily. Dr. Gandalf is all about education, aid and understanding.