Striving for Intimacy: The Role of Sincerity in the US Elections
It might be nice to know that your dentist is generous, but it is irrelevant to the job of cleaning your teeth. Is the same true of the role of sincerity in politics? The current campaign in the US has seen candidates eager to portray themselves as being as sincere as possible. Voters should not be led astray.
This past August, at the Republic National Convention — one of the most politicized contexts available for speech-making — intimate feelings were aired in the speeches of both Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, who weepingly hoped his parents were proud of him, and of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who recounted the emotional trials of his upbringing and how much he loved his mother.
Private emotion also took center stage in the speech made by Ann Romney, wife of the Republican nominee, who stood before an air-conditioned crowd of 15,000 delegates, journalists, and enthusiastic onlookers, and declared: “Tonight, I’m not going to talk to you about politics…I’m going to talk to you about love.” And then she did, holding forth on her “deep and abiding love” of husband, children, and country, back-dropped by faded family photographs projected onto multiple LED screens mounted atop a $2.5 million stage, one of the priciest setups ever erected for such a convention.
The effort was for a seemingly good reason: “Every aspect of the stage has been designed to convey warmth, approachability, and openness,” reported the New York Times. Price, it would seem, is no object when striving to convey emotional sincerity, no matter how much you really mean it.
But it’s not their fault. Republicans are merely the most recent victims of our modern “intimate” culture, evidenced in equal measure among Facebook friends, apologetic celebrities, repentant athletes, contrite congressmen and crying talk-show hosts. Democrats also used to be emotional types, descended as they are from the Age of Aquarius and its commandment to shed the trappings of cold rationality and share fuzzy feelings. Taken together, this collective sentimentality aims to display a human dimension unsullied by the machinations of politics and commerce and to vie for the “deeper values” of religion, patriotism and goodness.