The courageous politician -

The courageous politician


From an EKOS poll on emotion, intelligence and politics.

Which of the following emotions would you most like to see in a politician?

Courage 34%
Empathy 23%
Compassion, Caring 21%
Hope, Optimism 18%


The courageous politician

  1. Disregard for frivolous polls: 79%

  2. courage didn't work for Dion.

    • It might if his party was half as brave as he was. Stiil, i guess there's smart courage and the other kind.

  3. I am surprised HONESTY was not on the list. A courageous politician who is honest would be a wonderful addition to our parliament in any party. I hate the 'games' they play instead just to stay in power or keep their positions.

    • Honesty, like courage, is not an emotion. It's a virtue.

      • Actually, that's still not quite right; the September 11 attackers were courageous, but were they virtuous?

        • Just because someone has one virtue in spades doesn't make them "virtuous". That would be like saying "Low cholesterol is healthy, this man has low cholesterol, therefore this man is healthy! …never mind his kidney failure."

          For someone to be good (or healthy) they need to have all the essential aspects of virtue (health), not just some.

          • You make a good case. Yet i'd still nitpick over the issue of courage. The charge of the light brigade was both courageous and foolhardy. Hate to disagree with Aristotle, but i don't think i'd make such a fine distinction. I like your arguement for having all the virtues to be healthy.

          • I'd distinguish as follows: the Charge of the Light Brigade was courageous on the part of the men (following orders – even crazy ones as long as they weren't commanded to do something blatantly immoral – was what their duty demanded). The source of the problem wasn't foolhardiness (they weren't charging for the hell of it or to show off) but rather the fact that Nolan and Lucan did not get along, and hence Nolan peremptorily refused to clarify the order while Lucan refused to demand clarification. I'd call that a failure in terms of humility, not courage.

          • Yes, it's astonishing how one event can so completely capture the full scope of human fallibility. Courage, valour, duty, foolish pride, vanity and ultimately tragedy. Shakespeare would have made much of it all.

          • I think you are on the right track here. Even if the highjackers weren't virtuous overall they appear to have possessed the single virtue of courage. And the "their actions were unreasonable bit" seems to easy a cop out here. If the goal was to kill as many of their percieved enemies as possible, and to start a quagmire of a war with a second war thrown in for good measure, they certainly did what they set out to do.

          • "Reasonable" doesn't mean "consistent". Their actions were consistent with their aims, yes, but how could it be "reasonable" to slaughter thousands of civilians deliberately in order to start a war? It's an inherently unreasonable thing to do, which is why it's an intrinsically wrong thing to do…. and also why it's not a courageous thing to do.

          • That doesn't really work and it's a big failure with the Aristotelian model. As long as they understood the nature of fear as we do and overcame it for their goal, they can't be anything but courageous. (They can be lots of other terrible things, of course). If somebody has a plan and knows it would fail, they'd be foolhardy to go through with it. And if somebody just didn't realize a bad plan would fail, then they're just dumb.

      • ok…but all of them are human QUALITIES…I just didn't want to miss the opportunity of putting in a plug for one of the most important character trait in politicians that seems to be sorely lacking…I stand corrected

        • Yep, fair enough. I'm afraid my inner pedant popped out and bit us both in the ass.

    • I can't actually tell but it looks like it was a closed-end question (that is, the response options were listed by EKOS, not volunteered by the respondent).

      In that case, honesty would have been intentionally left out. And I can guess why: put honesty in that lineup, 75+% choose honesty, and the rest choose courage. That kind of data distribution isn't conducive to any kind of entertaining analysis AT ALL.

      • It was a closed-end question. I participated in the poll and found the questions to be frustrating. Like many have pointed out, since when is courage an emotion? And is empathy really that different from compassion? I felt that the structure of the poll would reinforce the notion that people believed their political preference was based on rationality, when in fact, it's often based on emotion. As if the two were completely independent of each other. It's a lot more nuanced than that, and further, emotions aren't necessarily irrational. On the whole, I'm not sure we're gonna learn much with this information. Except to mock the average voter. Which we already do.

  4. I see little difference between "empathy" and "compassion and caring" – if you combine those you get 44% and a whole different headline!
    Of course I notice that there is very bad news for Stephen Harper on the question what people like least in a politician. Hands down they say "jealousy and resentment" – in other words the two words that most describe Harper's character.

  5. Courage is an emotion? What??

    Courage means doing what your mind tells you is right even though you're scared sh!tless. The emotion is "fear". Acting according to what you think is right despite emotion is called "virtue".

    What we need in our politicians is less emotion and more virtue, not more emotion.

      • Thanks Reader,

        Dan Gardner's write-up enables the lot to be put into perpective. Think about the Afghanistan detainee issue when reading this particular excerpt:

        " Like everyone who has ever worked in politics, I saw how decisions were really made. The confusion. The stumbling about. The mistakes and miscommunications. The sheer randomness of events that pushed decisions this way and that. And I saw how pundits missed all that. To them, government decisions were always the product of Machiavellian calculation and everything could be explained with a story that was compelling, plausible — and false."

        Kinda like real life, isn't it?

        Polls can be misleading because most often the inputs (questions) and the outputs (answers) can be taken at (subjective) will during the polling process AND after.

  6. Why do voters always say they want to vote for nice politicians then end up giving narrow pluralities to the jerk ones? :)

    • Perhaps cuz they're not fond of fools either.

  7. Interesting stat from the deck: 87% agree that politicians exploit the emotions of voters in order to advance their own interests.

    At the same time, roughly the same proportion (86%) say that they make their ballot-box choice by reason and thinking, rather than by emotion (9%).

    So, are these voters saying that the emotional appeals that politicians make don't work on them? That they don't like the emotional appeals?

    Gee, folks, if people aren't affected by emotional appeals one way or another, why is it that negative advertising works?

    • Duning-Kruger effect.

      Basically, most people are clueless about themselves. The sad part is, the dumber you are, the more likely you are to be clueless, because you're too dumb to see when you're wrong.

      • I agree with you.

        I think that quality research takes that little gem of insight into account, and constructs research questions that gather more useful personal insights – rather than basic, one-dimensional responses that can be so very contradictory they defeat the purpose of the survey.

  8. It is a very odd poll if it included just those.

    – this is a mix of emotions and attributes. Courage is an attribute not an emotion

    – so if we are going to consider attributes, where are the other attributes we normally valued by voters like honesty, competence, experience?

    – as noted above, empathy and "Compassion, Caring" are the same thing pretty much

  9. This poll is almost useless. Here's hoping Iggy doesn't mistake "courage" for "I'll mess with you till I'm done".

  10. Yes, he would have indeed. Tennyson did a decent job though.
    Battle tends to bring out both the best and the worst in men, as they say.

  11. Whether the nitpickers are right or not on courage – Canadians still need someone like Obama…this man definitely has the courage – because I do not see this as a desperate move…
    Tomorrow he appears on FOX News…whether do-overs have been discussed – I am not aware!

    • Who's interviewing him? I'd dearly love to see that pompous jerk O'reilly get smacked down.

    • Obama election was pure emotion in action

      • It may well have been, but Obama in office is at least accessible to all comers.

  12. I'd choose "courage" (even if it isn't an emotion). Courage to put an end to the incestuous relationship between political strategists, pollsters and the media..

    • I don't think incestuous means what you think it means.

      • Well.. if you count the Canadian citizenship as the "parents" of all of those.. you have to admit, they do kind of screw with each other.

      • Incest. Inbreeding. Related people doing each other, the progeny of which (in this case, the message) gets dumber and dumber with each generation, iteration or cycle.

        It's not a perfect analogy, but it's good enough. Stephen Colbert used a sausage mill to describe something similar last week. The media publishes opinion produced by political strategists (some of us think of them as 'journalists' but most of them aren't), which is then absorbed by the public. The pollster surveys the public on those opinions only to gauge public opinion. The media picks up the poll results and reports this as "news."

        It's above all, cheap and lazy. The manufacture of consent is just a bonus.

  13. I think Canada’s politicians are wimps, the only one I remember having  guts was Trudeau

  14. I think all of Canada’s politicians are wimps , the only one that I remember that was’nt was Trudeau ,  I hope Justin is like his father.