Rhetoric is a powerful force.
We all recall the spectacle of watching American Liberals swept away in a tidal wave of rhetoric eight years ago, under the spell of a junior senator from Illinois who had not been very notable during his short time in the congress.
What mattered was that he was a compelling speaker; he excited and energized the people. Watching this myself, I glibly assumed that this was the sort of thing that only Progressives were susceptible to (given their Utopian bent). Conservative Republicans, I thought, were hard nosed realists that look at who a man actually is; at his history. For history is unquestionably the only way that we can know any person to which we ourselves have not had personal access. What it seems we are discovering is that human beings can be very susceptible to rhetoric regardless of their ideological stripe. Now the character of that rhetoric may vary; in one case we may have high eloquent rhetoric, and in another we may have bold-sounding, feisty, straight to the point rhetoric. The point is however that in each case rhetoric serves as a replacement for action.
What is courage and character? Courage and character do not consist of speaking in a confident, firm or aggressive tone. It means to faithfully stand for a set of principles over time, even when it is difficult to do. Now having the strength of one’s convictions comes from a desire to see certain things take place within your nation.. The man who truly has the good of his country as his highest priority will always be content to see another man or woman with similar values occupy that same office instead of himself. He would certainly never do anything that would unquestionably turn that country over to his political opponents. Any man who seeks the prestige of the office above the advancement of his principles cannot be trusted with the power of the office. At the beginning of this race Mr. Trump refused to pledge his support for the eventual Republican nominee. After considering his lead in the polls and the political pressure he agreed to do so. When recently another candidate began to pull ahead in the polls he indicated that he would revoke that pledge, but once he proved triumphant in South Carolina he reversed himself once more.
Both the history of political positions here (on healthcare, abortion, gun control, even taxes) and the unwillingness to lay down his own personal ambition for the sake of Conservative political beliefs should be a clue on the question of conviction. Now president Obama by contrast is a true believer in his ideals who would support any fellow Progressive candidate win or lose. The overall point here is that we must become more concrete in the assessment of our political candidates. Let the things that excite us be the things that we have learned about their actions and their character; not their campaign rhetoric in the present moment.
People within an authoritarian society are lead by the picture that a leader paints of himself. The people within a free society are lead by the picture that reality paints of a man.