The world has been audience to a fair deal of intense politics and politicians these past few months. Often times, one digs their head deep into an abyss of political nothingness and wonders: how? How do these men with smart attires and loud voices manage to capture the attention of millions, and attain the confidence of so many? The answer lies within an eight letter word: charisma.

Many have struggled to define this particular term. It is generally used to describe the ability to persuade people by possessing a sort of charm that lures attention. It is also one of, if not the most, influential characteristics of a political candidate. Without charisma, politicians lose the confidence of the people.

Throughout history, charisma has done its work, evoking enthusiasm for speakers and concealing major flaws in political beliefs.

The word charisma has always held a positive connotation. Then who, dare say, would put Adolf Hitler, the genocidal leader of Nazi Germany, on the list of charismatic leaders?

Hitler appealed to the public by addressing issues that were being avoided by other political groups, speaking with a loud, confident voice. He promised a source of security, which was scarce after the devastation of World War 1. Citizens were impressed by this man who had come to them as a savior, promising them a way out of their despair. He was powerful and mesmerizing. His unwavering voice gave citizens a message of confidence and brilliance.

The public’s response to Hitler’s persona occurred because of his dark charisma—but isn’t charisma, regardless of its possessor, always dark? Blinded by the way politicians present themselves, the public is always cheated by their charm. People are so drawn in by the candidates’ personalities that they fail to consider whether the candidates will bring prosperity to the nation.

And that is exactly what is happening with U.S presidential candidate Donald Trump. People who think of elections as just another form of entertainment have forgotten the influential role of a political leader.

Mr. Trump happens to be one of the most current and popular examples of a charismatic politician. His blunt, and quite inappropriate, comments have earned him “stardom.” Politicians are known for veiling their comments, fabricating the truth behind pretty words. By defying this popular habit, he has appealed to the American crowds. Yes, he is racist. Yes, he targets specific groups. Yes, he doesn’t have an ounce of respect for anyone but himself. But hey, at least he doesn’t conceal his real thoughts, and in the eye of the public such a quality results in a great leader.

Of course, this is nothing but false hope. With his brash comments and narcissistic character, it won’t be long until Mr. Trump offends dozens of influential figures.  The victim would be America, left to bear the consequences of a careless mouth. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” he once tweeted. Apart from the fact that Mr. Trump offended the largest ethnic population in the world, his words were absolutely ludicrous.

But we can’t deny the fact that Mr. Trump is great entertainment. Republican debates have become popcorn-worthy comedy shows filled with creative insults passed back and forth between candidates (most of which involve the beloved Trump). There is not a lot of spotlight on policies and plans, just repeated discussions on the big “Unspeakables” : Muslims, Mexicans, and Mr. Trump’s lying habits.

With Donald Trump’s candidacy, however, American citizens have suddenly become interested in the ongoing elections. The voter turnout rate for the primaries saw a visible increase since the elections in 2012, going from a low 17.9% to 36.9% in Illinois [1].

It can be concluded, then, that people look for entertainment in this man. They know that if he is gone, the hype of the election will fade away. That the ridiculous questions featured in Republican debates will turn more serious. That the scandalous allegations Mr.Trump makes against candidates will be enjoyed no more. That the evening news broadcast won’t flash a witty headline against Mr.Trump’s latest actions.

So he is spurred on, charisma doing what could have never been done otherwise.

The victim in this charade, as always, remains the public, puppets of the charisma of politicians. It can be easily argued, however, that regardless of charisma, a politician cannot succeed in a democracy without the support of the people.

A puppeteer, no matter how charming he may be, is nothing without his puppets.

It remains, then, the job of the public to steer away from the charm of a political candidate.  In the end, it is the policies that matter, not the personalities.

Illustration: Jeffrey Liu

Illustration: Jeffrey Liu


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