Wonder why it's so easy for a politician to go from nutty fringe to moderate?

October 4, 2009

Quick thought. I was recently speaking to someone who works for a fairly outspoken politician (to say the least) who said that the politician in question is currently considering whether to communicate in a slightly more mellow manner so as to attract a different type of voter.

It’s startling how thin the line between “moderate” and “nutty fringe” can be: unless you actually are a nutty fringe politician, whether you’re seen as one or the other is largely down to how you communicate. But what’s really odd is how we as constituents are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and gloss over the past once the switch has been made. I’ll admit that I fit into that category: in 1994, Gianfranco Fini said Mussolini was the greatest statesman of the 20 century; now he’s changed his tone and is a reasonable centrist who speaks some sense amongst the throng of crude and worthless populists that make up the Italian ruling majority – and I believe him.

What a great benefit to politicians looking to make the grade though. Whether of the left or of the right, they can cause a stir amongst “party bases” by stating their position in the most outlandish terms possible, then repackage themselves as a more moderate force once they have a following and a media presence  (i.e. saying the same things just in a more conciliatory tone and with less gesticulation.) Hey presto, they attract a different breed of supporter virtually from one day to the next! Wish it were that easy for the rest of us.

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