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[Opinion] Political Flattery

Posted January. 01, 2007 03:39,   


Jimmy Carter is famous for the saying, “A government as good as its people.” Ronald Reagan said, “I have never failed when I believed in the wisdom of Americans.” The two former presidents were well aware of the fact that people living in a democratic country like to be praised. Therefore, they were able to win enormous support from the people by praising them as “great citizens.” In other words, their strategy to flatter the people worked.

The examples of Carter and Reagan was introduced in the book “You’re Too Kind: A Brief History of Flattery” written by Richard Stengel, the managing editor of Time magazine.

During the 2002 presidential election, President Roh said, “Everything was possible because of the high consciousness of Koreans.” During his inauguration speech, he said, “We are able to make miracles if we cooperate.” However, President Roh has barely praised the Koreans after that. When he was giving a speech on Memorial Day, he mentioned “shameful history,” consciousness, conglomerates, media, prosecutors, residents in certain areas, and people in certain fields. He scolded and made cynical remarks.

In the 21st century, “flattering skills” are equal to capability and assets. Some say that the politics of today is to “curry favor with voters.” However, Koreans are used to the angry face of their president. It seems that the president and the public are not having appropriate communication. Once, a high-ranking government official said, “The president is living in the 1950s when dictators ruled and the Koreans are living in the 21st century where democracy is everything. The president should reflect on himself. It does not seem that he tried to make a better country by praising Koreans.”

There will be another presidential election in 2007. Koreans will be sick of hearing “love and respect” from lawmakers. I would like to say that praising Korea just because of the ratings is not a good idea. Politicians should ingratiate themselves to the people by solving their problems and convincing them. I think that the politicians should learn the four steps introduced by an American sociologist Edward Jones: “That’s great”; “I totally agree”; “it’s not something huge”; and “I will do it.”