Thursday, 16 May 2013

Everybody Loves...?

Well, it's budget week here in Oz and the Opposition leader just made a very stirring speech which got a standing ovation. The consensus is that it is the unpopularity of the government which is making him more popular. This got me thinking about popularity--the sine qua non in a democratic society--and who has it and who doesn't. Think of the difference between Gillard, Cameron or Hollande, frantically trying to hold on to government, and the reception Prince Harry received when he visited America recently (here's a clue: think of how young people felt about the Beatles in 1963). Politics is unpopular in and of itself these days, synonymous with all the aspects of contemporary society which got us into our present economic and social predicament. It almost reminds one of how discredited liberalism and/or nationalism seemed to so many people between the first and second world wars.

There are however people a lot more unpopular again than politicians--there is the Catholic Church. Poor Pope Francis recently canonised his first saints but people only have one association with his brand nowadays. Now, they can only dream of the popularity of the royal family...

Popularity is obviously partly about your personality (you know what Harry has going for him) but it is also about the people's esteem for the ideals you represent. A popular politician nowadays is a bit like a popular lawyer, which isn't surprising given that they are mostly lawyers...


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