Tuesday, January 10, 2012


 In the midst of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary Governor Romney has been declared the “most electable” candidate.  Why is that?  One reason may be that he possesses “gravitas” and the other candidates do not.  Gravitas is not charisma.  Charisma is a sort of attractiveness derived from our animal nature.  It is a magnetism derived from our heavily dominated sexual being.  It is the quality Hollywood looks for in a leading man and People magazine seeks for their cover.  Gravitas on the other hand is a quality we look for in our leaders rather than someone we look at and drool over.  Gravitas is a seriousness and intellectual focus that we seek in someone who will help us to understand or solve an issue.  Charisma is a quality of someone we want to be around, but it is not a quality that we expect to help us do anything.  Charisma is about making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Gravitas is the quality of confidence.  People with gravitas exuded intellectual superiority.  People with charisma exuded physical superiority. 

In a society that needs to overcome economic difficulties would be wise to select a leader with gravitas rather than charisma.   Many economic theorists possess gravitas.  Keynes certainly had gravitas.  Alan Greenspan had gravitas.  It is difficult to determine if historical figures had gravitas.  Without video tape it is difficult to speculate, but it seems so.  The importance of gravitas cannot be overlooked by a society seeking solutions to their problems.  The most brilliant of observations and the best advice might be overlooked when delivered by a messenger without gravitas.  

Therefore, Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue are not wrong to seek people to lead their corporations and country that possess appealing qualities.   But careful selection of traits is as important as choosing the potential candidates.  Often qualities like physical attractiveness are given as much weight as gravitas by the selectors.  This is a backwards approach.  The proper approach is to evaluate the position and determine what qualities the position requires rather than comparing the candidates side by side before meeting basic standards.  Comparing the candidates without providing a filter of personal qualities required for the job ends up skewing the criteria for selection.   For instance when the candidates are compared a quality like sense of humor or compassion might propel one candidate to the top of the pack even though those qualities are not significant requirements of the job.  Job skills need to be weighted and evaluated for each candidate before they are placed side by side for comparison.

If you are an American and will be voting to select the next United States President, first evaluate what five hurdle qualities a Presidential candidate should possess.  While you are mulling that over here are my minimum requirements:

·         Experience raising a child

·         Graduate school experience (could be as a perceptive janitor)

·         Three years of experience in a minimum wage job

·         Ten years of Private Sector experience

·         Gravitas

With that type of experience a candidate would have knowledge of all the most significant activities of human life: child rearing; higher education; the bottom of the economic ladder; understanding of the operation of the economy; and the ability to convey ideas.  Note, I do not think any experience in political life is necessary.  What is your list?

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