Already, as in every election cycle, heavyweight politicians and insipid celebrities are drawn, like moths to a flame, to campaign trail and commercial appearances for endorsement spots.
This culture, which promotes the puerility of groupthink, and depresses the meritocracy that should underlie popular elections, is one of soft despotism. It holds colloquy- the battlefield of ideas at the heart of democratic governance- at the barrel of a gun, allowing puerility to act unimpeded. It makes personality more important than ideas.
Political endorsements rely on collectivism. Collectivism relies on vapidity and conformity. Value lies in the consensus of a majority that is, at best, vaguely defined. Rather than independently examine facts, contrasting them with truth made apparent to the individual through their unique experiences and though patterns, a primacy is placed on social capital made hollow because there is no examination, just reaction.
This system of soft tyranny is, in some respects, worse than hard tyranny. Slavishness of the mind is volitional. Choosing not to think is as much an active act as choosing to engage in rationality. Hard tyranny, the act of conquering, presupposes opposition. The conquered at least has the satisfaction of having resisted. The victims of soft tyranny don’t even have this vestige of honor for they’ve sold themselves, and done so gladly.
Voting should be the ultimate public expression of ego. Federalistic representation relies on the principle of each voter carefully weighing their needs and opinions against the actions and words of a candidate. In this way, an individual brands themselves upon national politics and proclaims the supremacy of their interests. Here, the individual is part of the national constituency, but they maintain their sovereignty.
A culture where political endorsements are valued strips the individual of sovereignty and perverts the principles of democratic governance. Endorsers, whether famous national politicians or members of the entertainment industry, draw turnout from name recognition. They make emotional, not logical appeals. They use buzz words and emotionally gratifying bromides instead of analyzing the foundation of policy. This is not political discourse this is venial gloss.
And it is degrading. It promotes a view of the electorate, not as a faction who must be won over through meritorious action and solid rhetoric, but through the hyperbole of ultimately foundation-less cultural appeals.
Worse still, in this atmosphere, the dissenter is demonized, necessarily so. A platitude can only stand so long as its core is not examined. Dissent, whether borne of disagreement over message or values, threaten to expose the hollow core of this perfunctory grandiose oratory. The right to survival demands they be discredited. So, endorsers become more malevolent, painting their opponents as a threat to the very foundation of the mob. And the more people object to this tactic, the worse the smears must become. This is the centrifugal force that destroys free society. This is real democracy.
This is not to say that those with public stature give up a right to speak their mind. They have every right. Nor should the channel through which they can do so be regulated. Discourse is what moves values forward. Rather, the individual needs to understand that their silent assent to such rhetoric is the only thing that sanctions the soft tyranny of political endorsements. Liberality and democratic governance require a high threshold for discretion. Voters need to hold candidates for office to that.