Not long ago I read in the newspaper an opinion piece about the difference between two prominent political leaders. One is the leader of a right-wing government and the other the leader of a left-wing government. Let’s call them Mr Right and Mr Left. It is a stark little vignette of opposite approaches to governing, principles and standards. But more than anything else it is about morality, ethics and values. Mr Right’s supreme allegiance is to business and capitalism, Mr Left’s to the people he governs. Mr Right doesn’t care about people who don’t wield economic power. Which is not surprising. Anyone who subscribes to trickle-down economic theories cannot have common folks’ interests at heart. Mr Right talks the talk, but has no empathy, no genuine concern for humanity. He uses smoke and mirrors to cultivate an appealing image. He is a moral vacuum, using weasel words and his religious beliefs to mask his emptiness. It is interesting that the columnist believes that a prominent adversary in his party is always circling, looking for an opportunity to pounce and wrest the leadership from him. Perhaps he believes that the shallow populism that underpins Mr Right’s popularity is short-lived. One thing I can say for sure is that Mr Right is not liked within his party. He cannot be. He is not a likeable person. His type engenders hatred. His so-called friends or allies or inner circle are made up of people whose allegiances to him are driven solely by their own ambitions. How, you may ask, did such a person become an elected leader? Well, a certain Donald Trump has proved that reprehensible human qualities are not political poison. And decency does not guarantee being elected either. I can think of a few decent, compassionate, likeable political leaders who were never elected to the office they sought because of a perception of weakness, probably the most politically poisonous attribute. Mr Left, on the other hand, though decent and compassionate, is a strong leader. He possesses an impressive array of political pluses: fearlessness, leading from the front, self-belief, inner strength, all driving his compassion for the people he governs. A natural leader, he is head and shoulders above Mr Right. In a political context, the quality that stands out in Mr Left is charisma. It is a quality possessed by all leftist leaders who have been elected to lead this country in recent times. They are towering figures. Maybe it is only such leaders that can convince a greedy, self-serving, affluent society to give them their altruistic mandates. Mr Left will be difficult to topple either within his party or at an election.
Why are populist right-wing arseholes being elected to high office these days? I wonder if vehement opposition to so-called political correctness has driven people to embrace leaders who represent everything that political correctness rails against. I have always thought, and still think that political correctness is a way forward for humanity. The operative word is correctness. It is about a visceral correctness that everyone knows instinctively. It is linked to an archetypal altruism, ancient moral codes that predate religion and enabled homo sapiens to survive. Underlying present day political correctness are ancient absolute truths about what needs to prevail for human survival. For instance, peace needs to prevail over war. Belligerence confers a short lifespan on humanity. It is a slippery slope to extinction. Altruism has to intervene and assert itself, or it will be just a matter of time before humanity vanishes.