Rejection, The Prime Modern Political Perception?
From Herman Cain to Mario Monti, it seems that people want to promote personalities embodying to the point of caricature a break from their predecessors. This induces 180-degree perception changes that are very surprising.
About fifteen days ago, I was amazed to hear a member of the U.S. House of Representatives explain his support to Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and current candidate in the Republican presidential primary, as follows: “He is not one of them (politicians), so he is one of us (the people).” Of course, Herman Cain is different from many American political leaders: He is totally incompetent – as once again recently demonstrated by the pitiful answer he gave to a question about Libya (see below). It seems a long time has gone since Americans elected a (too?) intellectual President in the person of Barack Obama.
A week ago, Mario Monti was appointed Italy’s Prime Minister in replacement of Silvio Berlusconi. Of course, Monti is different from the Cavaliere: He is an austere economics professor who does not engage in “bunga bunga” and did not resort to plastic surgery. It seems a long time has gone since a former executive of Goldman Sachs – a bank that is often singled out for its responsibilities in the excesses leading to the current economic and financial crises – and the European Commission – an institution that European citizens hate for its technocratic MO and its arrogance vis-à-vis their everyday life – such as Mario Monti could not have come to power. Maybe even more ironically, Mario Monti, a former proselyte of absolute free competition when he was working in Brussels, today pretends to be – and is presented by the media as being – the best individual to manage an unprecedented intervention of the State in the Italian economy.
As these examples show, alterity can be, in political perception, a quality notwithstanding the reality it hides. Our assessment of political news resembles the M Class described in the latest Mercedes ad: “It controls everything but your emotions.”