The Personality Traits and Private Lives of Politicians Should Have no Bearing in Democratic Political Discourse

The Personality Traits and Private Lives of Politicians Should Have no Bearing in Democratic Political Discourse

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Social media can also be used as a method to appear more connected to the citizens and as a platform to share personal images from the private lives of politicians. This has been a rather successful approach as many politicians have taken to using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. An example of this is Barack Obama’s most retweeted Twitter post, that contained a photograph of the President and the First Lady in a warm embrace with the caption ‘four more years’. This photo was successful in portraying the presidents personal life - his loving relationship with his wife - and positive personality traits (Harding, 2012, The Guardian). This helped to show Barack Obama as the right leader for the country for the next four years. It also made the citizens feel involved in a personal moment in the presidents life, through social media. This was really effective as the whole campaign was relied heavily on social media to connect with the voters. These methods of presenting ones private life in the media should not be excluded from political discourse as it helps to show the electorate more and help them feel more connected to the politicians.

Lee, (2013) states, in Britain “...the area of political debate has become smaller and parties have become more similar, certainly in the area of policy” (Lee, 2013:281). The lack of differences between political parties may make it harder for the citizens to decide who to vote for. The increased attention on the personality traits and personal lives of politician may be an alternative method for the electorate to decide who to vote for. Kuhn, (2004) mentions that the personal qualities of politicians can help citizens distinguish candidates when the there is little difference be...


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...and Public Policy - Discussion Paper D-2.
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Seaton, J., (2003), ‘Public, Private, and the Media’, The political Quarterly, 72(2):174-183.
Stanyer, J., and Wring, D., (2004), ‘Public Images, Private Lives: An Introduction’ Parliamentary Affairs, 57(1):1-18.
Stanyer, J., (2013), Intimate Politics: Publicity, Privacy, and the Private Lives of Politicians in Media Saturated Democracies (Cambridge: Polity Press).
Street, J., (2004), ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’ The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6(4):435-452.

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