People that know me will already be aware that I’m a massive fan of The West Wing – the US TV series with Martin Sheen playing President Josiah Bartlett. Well I’m now onto the final series of the box set I treated myself to at Christmas (I’m really proud of myself that I’ve managed to spread it out this long – there was a danger I’d watch them all within about 2 weeks).
In this final series we are concentrating a lot on the race to succeed President Bartlett. The Democratic nomination was won by Congressman Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits), while it’s Senator Arnold Vinick who is the Republican candidate (played by Alan Alda).
And what’s interesting about this is that I’ve had a real soft spot for Alan Alda ever since he played one of my favourite TV characters of all time – Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.
So even though all the main characters from the show are Democrats, even though Santos is meant to be ‘our guy’, even though I naturally lean to the Democrats anyway – part of me wants Hawkeye to win.
And that got me thinking about politics. Is it really as simple as having a great public image (and I use the term ‘simple’ partly in jest as I know that it can be very difficult to ‘create’ a great public image)? My local MP is Ken Clarke and while I’m not particularly a fan of his politics, from what I’ve seen I quite like the man – so I’m not unhappy to have him representing me.
So is that what’s it’s about to get elected?
Maybe it is and actually maybe that is where a lot of MPs are failing. I think most of them know that a good public image is important. But the key thing that I think most of them forget is that if you spend a huge amount of time and energy trying to create one it almost certainly backfires – you look like you’re trying to create an image and for the majority of the British public that is about the worst thing you can do.
The main reasons I like Hawkeye Pierce and Ken Clarke (how many times have they been compared in the same sentence before?) is that they don’t try too hard – they just seem like nice guys. They seem like the kind of people who care about others, can get on with others, are genuine in their beliefs and would stand up for those beliefs – exactly the kind of qualities needed for an MP.
So I wonder if Hawkeye will win – if you’ve seen it please don’t tell me.