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The Selection Process

Feb
29
2008

Apparently there’s another election thing going on in the U.S. (There’s one going on here in Spain too but we’ll leave that for now.) Every four years is getting a bit ridiculous – you’d think we could find someone we like and stick with her, or him.
But no, every four years it’s a new courtship. And that dating metaphor is one that gets used regularly too. The politician tries to court the voters, to seduce them, the voters try to decide who they like, who they want to spend the next four years with; once elected there’s a honeymoon period, followed by, you got it – the backlash, revulsion, disgust.
What, almost half of marriages end in divorce right? And those are people who had a chance to sleep together before making it permanent. What possible chance is there of a picking a president we like based on a few speeches, some debates, a policy paper or two for the most earnest of us – even the most high-definition screen doesn’t get that close.
Let’s say you’re (formally or not) mate shopping. What’s the first characteristic you use to winnow down the candidates? There’s shared values, character, intelligence, wit, blah blah blah. But from across the bar, what you’re really going with is…looks. And that’s a nice reliable one. You only have to watch some Hollywood couplings and uncouplings to see that attractiveness is not a reliable guide to long-term suitability.
But OK, you go with instinct – this person feels like the one. And you bring him or her to hang out with your friends. And they hate him, or her. Well, what do you do? Ignore the friends, of course. If you’re lucky, they won’t say I told you so later. And that’s exactly like an intra-party debate. You stick with the one that you brung. Your gang’s hanging out, trading barbs, getting a feel for each other. But if you go into the debate supporting a candidate who doesn’t do so well, you make excuses, you don’t notice – you even think they did well.
And what’s another relationship test? Bringing the date to meet the family. That’s just like a press conference – bam, bam, bam, everyone’s shooting off questions and pictures. And so what if the candidate looks a little weak, unprepared or ignorant. Everyone can have a bad day, right? They’ll change. Ha!
The trick is whether we’ll still want our pick when conflict comes up down the road. According to this article, how couples work out differences is the key to staying together. And in that respect, spouses have one up on presidents. Couples can try to work things out, but not one president has ever called me to chat when he does something that annoys me. How can a citizen not become disillusioned?
A lot of dating and presidential picking involves wishful thinking and selective attention. Logically it’s about trying to project behavior in a set of unknown future circumstances, which is tough, if not impossible. And despite the way it looks from internet dating or the initial multitudinous candidate field, we’re also not really choosing from an infinite number of possibilities. So we go with the illogical. Hey, it does work half the time.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:08 AM | Permalink

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