Trudeaumania: Role Culture Plays in Achieving Political Power Essay

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He was controversial and outspoken. He was photographed executing a pirouette behind the Queen's back. He slid down bannisters and had a vast repertoire of funny faces. He made certain to always pin a rose to his lapel. He said things like "just watch me" and "fuddle duddle". He couldn't go out in public without being mobbed by vivacious crowds. We wanted his autograph and to have our photos taken next to him. He held celebrity status. He arguably ignited the most national pride and political interest our country has ever felt. He was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada. It was "Trudeaumania".
This connection between culture and power was clearly exemplified more recently during the 2008 United States presidential election. Barrack Obama created a culture of hope. Careful framing resulted in simple images of Obama speaking to crowds evoking a feeling of hope in American voters. Every photo of him was taken from below to create the illusion of power. His words were carefully chosen to create an empowering narrative. His slogan "Yes We Can" was chanted all over America. He was the popular and "cool" candidate. People were excited. The illusion of power quickly became a reality.
"Trudeaumania" was arguably the most significant Canadian example of the important role culture plays in achieving political power. The course text Introduction to Politics, defines power as "the ability to make others do something that they would not have chosen to do" (Garner, Ferdinand, Lawson & MacDonald, 2009). The same text defines political culture as "the totality of ideas and attitudes towards authority, discipline, governmental responsibilities and entitlements, and associated patterns of cultural transmission such as the e...

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Garner, R., Ferdinand, P., Lawson, S., & MacDonald, D. B. (2009). Introduction to politics. (Canadian ed.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.
Ignatieff, M. (2013). Fire and ashes: Success in politics. Toronto, ON: Random House.
Lakoff, G. (2008). The political mind. Toronto: Penguin.
Litt, P. (2008). Trudeaumania: Participatory democracy in the mass-mediated nation. Canadian Historical Review. Retrieved from
MacLeod, J., & Webb, N. (2011). "Imagery" as political action. The international journal of the image, 1(2), Retrieved from
O'Brien, K. (2014). Notes on POLS 1002 lecture. Personal Collection of K. O'Brien, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax NS.

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