Saturday, March 29, 2008

Character

This being an election year, we are lectured regularly on the need for character in our candidates. We are told that character is in fact essential in a good political leader or candidate. Since this appears to be so important a trait and since I want to vote for the right kind of candidate, I decided that the best thing to do would be to look up the word in the dictionary. Much to my chagrin, Merriam Webster shows a number of different definitions of the word.
  1. A symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information. Nope, I don't think that this is it, unless the man formerly known as Prince is running for something or if you are running for mayor of Sesame Street.
  2. The aggregate of distinctive qualities of a breed, strain, or type. Nope, this sound like some form or racial profiling to me, so I am SURE that this cannot be what they are talking about.
  3. The personality or part which an actor recreates. Now this one has some possibilities, as I am always convinced that politicians are always acting in public (and of course some actors have become politicians); but somehow this doesn't strike me as an ideal to strive for.
  4. A short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type. More references to racial profiling, this time seemingly by documenting social status. Though it seems to me that only rich people can afford to run for political office, again I doubt that this is an enviable trait or one to be sought after.
  5. Moral excellence and firmness. Oh this has got to be it, though I can only say this with a sense irony. While I freely admit that morals, unlike ethics, change with time and society; I refuse to believe that we have sunk to a level that the behavior exhibited by most politicians today could be called excellent or firm. Consistent maybe, but only in the way that one can say that tornadoes consistently damage property.

So maybe what everyone is trying to tell us is that the most important trait in a political candidate (or office holder) is something which we simply cannot define, and if we could, cannot actually have. I have to say that this is a disappointment to me. How am I to cast my vote properly in the upcoming elections in November? How are we to have those in office with the very trait that the political parties, and the candidates themselves, feel is so important? Why are they trying to make this so damn confusing?

Perhaps someone else out there has the answer and will share with the rest of us...

Though never a political candidate, nor aspiring to such office I have been told from time to time that I "am" a character, and I was never quite sure what was meant by it. Having done this research and looking back on it now, I suppose that I would have to go with #2. Some might additionally go so far as to say that I am a flawed character, though a flawed "aggregate of distinctive qualities" seems somewhat contradictory to me. Then again, perhaps it's the flaws that make me distinctive. Hey I like that!

6 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Tim,

As I see it, we have 3 characters running for the highest office in the land, yet (although I have described them as characters) there isn't a shred of character to be found amongst them; at least not any where that it matters anyway...

This election cycle, I fear that any of the weasels (and hopefully the lesser of them) will be some thing)that we are destined to endure.

God help us, one and all. . .

Tim Higgins said...

hooda,

I fear that you are right. I have all but given up hope in the area of presidential politics. I believe that continual research in the process is of value however. You never know when we might trip over the truth by accident.

Ben said...

Hooda,

Though I have any a difference with McCain over the years, I would say without a doubt that McCain has more character than the other two.

Tim Higgins said...

Ben,

While I wouldn't disagree with you, I fear (as hooda pointed out) that the voting public has confused the question of "Who has the most character?" with "Who is the biggest character?"

It is this additional question of definition that is liable to get us 4 years characters in government.

Chad Quigley said...

Considering these are the 3 last candidates......

I Demand A Recount!

Tim Higgins said...

Chad,

Obviously you just don't understand that in 2008 even bad character counts as character.