Barack Obama has it. What is it? Some call it swagger, some call it panache, and others say that it is uncanny composure. Nonetheless, it is an intangible characteristic that helps him appeal to the masses (obviously excluding politics). However, it seems as if today more than ever, Obama is in a class by himself when it comes to politicians with personality. By personality I don’t mean the ability to come up with cutesy retorts and one-liners to make the news cycle. I mean the ability to embrace their individuality without buying into the stiff suit cohort. Where are the politicians who enjoy spoken word, ride Harleys, and who are unashamed to say they listen to rap music? To be honest, many in mainstream America are uninformed. A lot of the electorate casts their ballots based on issues completely unrelated to candidate’s voting records and credentials. For some it’s race or gender, but for many it’s relatability. When Barack Obama said that he had Jay-z on his ipod it resonated with many people who weren’t necessarily entrenched in the political sphere. When Sarah Palin talked about her time as a hockey mom, many middle-aged mothers rejoiced that they could vote for someone just like them.
While policy is undeniably important it is only one factor in selling a candidate. It saddens me that I can’t really think of any elected officials with swagger. Trust me, lack of swagger is a bipartisan problem that needs to be addressed. While Democrats and Republicans may differ ideologically they seem to be monolithic when it comes to style and savvy. Even Obama bores me with his white shirts and red or blue straight tie. Can we get some variety? Throw in a bow tie every now and then, maybe even a pastel color. We say things our gauche because they have never been done before. David Plouffe and David Axelrod ultimately changed the way political campaigns will be conducted. Why can’t some politicians change the game?
Let’s be honest, we all know politicians are normal people. Many of them have experimented with drugs, had extramarital affairs, and have done many other things that have a negative social stigma. While I don’t think they should embrace their indiscretions, it’s time for many of them to just flat out loosen up. It would be nice to see Nancy Pelosi do the electric slide or see Jesse Jackson Jr. in the front row at a Lupe Fiasco concert. Maybe I’m asking too much of our elected officials. I just like to think that I casted my vote for a normal human being, not a robot.
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