There have always been political heroes. From Cicero to Churchill.
More recently, UK conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and Canadian clinical psychologist Prof. Jordan B Peterson have acquired loyal online followings and extensive mainstream media coverage.
In all instances, those who ascribe greatness to politicians and political commentators alike, identify in them a combination of charisma and verbal dexterity – both enviable qualities in the University dormitory.
But politics is a complex and contentious business.
Discerning lawyers have long since acknowledged, that it is more than semantics to note the difference between arguing a point ‘cleverly’ and presenting a clever argument.
That’s not to say that Peterson and Rees-Mogg are not arguing in earnest, but they are equally aware of the importance of their respective performances.
The danger in accruing political disciples is two fold. Firstly, for the disciple, there is the likelihood that they will find themselves with a predilection to agree with all that is said, and to take the speakers word for their proficiency in the minutiae of all topics under the sun.
And for the speaker, aside from fostering a proclivity to play to the gallery, it makes the prospect of publicly conceding a point in a debate increasingly rare.
This is important, because without owning one’s own fallibility, the unlikelihood of compromise and generosity in a debate invariably leads to entrenched positions of antipathy. Never a place that brings out the best in people or politics.
I make no comment on Rees-Mogg or Peterson’s respective politics, other than to say that like most adroit and erudite people, when discussing their personal sui generis specialties, they can be both thought provoking and entertaining.
It is when they are required to comment outside of their practiced expertise or experience that their inevitable ‘feet of clay’ become conspicuous to the objective listener.
Fandom is best reserved for teenagers, whose heroes are celebrities from music, sport and entertainment.
Having once been a teenager myself, I am all too aware of the ephemeral nature of the apparent messianic qualities of mortal men.
Now all that remains is to discourage celebrities from music, sport and entertainment from pontificating on politics too!