I think there are ultimately four characteristics in candidates that I think drive our perceptions and our decisions: competence (can this person do this job); policies (does this person have clear prescriptions to deal with issues that matter to us); character and persona (will I feel proud, or appropriately represented, by this person in this office); and rhetoric (am I moved, or inspired, or motivated, by hearing this person speak – and the corollary, do I think this person’s rhetorical ability will motivate others.)
I think in past elections I have felt more swayed by the latter two categories. I certainly voted for Senator Obama more for his enchanting words, and the vision he presented for America, than for his record or his policies.
Two things have changed for me. The first is that – perhaps paradoxically – the Trump administration has eviscerated some of my faith in this system and its leaders, and I feel more distance from my elected officials than ever before; and instead of remedying that, I feel more invested in the instrumentality of my elected officials than in a need for inspiration from them or imagined intimacy with them. And the second, apropos the Packer piece, is that I genuinely fear for American government and democracy if it remains in the hands of ideologues and rhetoricians.
Yehuda Kurtzer, Facebook post (2 March 2020) [https://www.facebook.com/yehuda.kurtzer/posts/10158429416342174]