Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Large

With the election looming and the inevitable anti-climax that will follow for us liberal minded folk, it’s time to get our thinking hats on about how we can help give things even a teeny weeny shove in the right direction.

One of the most interesting themes with elections is the amount of scrutiny that falls upon the leader, despite them having a whole party lurking in their shadow. But what is a leader exactly?

To some, a leader is simply someone whom we follow, while for others they are someone who direct and organise a group toward a common goal. But one thing is unanimously agreed upon; they rule the roost and all our answers go to them.

What kind of person does it take to be a leader? Who can withstand such heavy criticism and public attention while still playing it cool? It certainly takes a substantial amount of ego. Worryingly, past studies have shown links between narcissism and leadership – does this mean our lives rely upon the selfish intentions of rich narcissists who have no regard for those who they lead?

A prime minister is probably the most notorious kind of leader in existence. Not only do they have to lead their own parties towards their specific political goal, they also have to guide an entire country in the same direction, whilst making it seem like it is a completely sensible and objective direction for everyone. It’s a shame that most of the time, it isn’t.

To achieve this coercion, the leaders in question usually have to employ a variety of persuasive tactics, diversions and rhetoric to cover their tracks. Thanks to their inherently ego-centric demeanours, they usually excel at this and as such, it is usually the best liar who will be voted in.

Take Green Party’s leader Natalie Bennett, who last week found herself in the centre of a disastrous interview that saw the end of any momentum the party were gaining.

The LBC interview described as “a complete meltdown” and “awkward beyond words” saw Bennett questioned on some of her idealistic propositions including to build 500,000 new homes. After host Nick Ferrari responded “Good lord, where would you get the money for that” she struggled explaining how or even remembering how much it would cost in the first place, later telling the press she “suffered a mind blank.”

It brings a tear to our eyes to admit it, but if Natalie Bennett doesn’t even have the leadership skills to command an interview on her basic propositions in her favour, it is unlikely she can command an entire country of hedonistic capitalists towards green-topia. But maybe that just makes her more of a human and in a different world, a better leader.

But in this world, we need Machiavellian leaders. We need self-assured conmen with an inhuman ability to fabricate their intentions and mislead their followers with fake smiles and empty promises. Does this sound paranoid? Take a look at what has happened to England and ask if anyone actually wanted this. Austerity, privatisation of public services and tax cuts for the rich certainly weren’t part of the Conservative’s public campaign during the last election.

So how on earth do we vote? The left have fallen to public scrutiny and the right, well, we already know what they’re planning. Watch The First 100 Days if you don’t – a mockumentary where the first 100 days of a UKIP leadership is depicted hypothetically. That leaves us with the centre – a confused amalgamation of both.

It’s easy for this kerfuffle to leave us feeling disillusioned; floating around somewhere in the middle, desperate for a leader who knows how to fix our problems, desperate for a good and honest world, desperate for anything that means something. But what does desperation achieve?

Perhaps it’s time to ditch the idea of left and right – the debate of which will never end and will be the cause of constant conflict until the end of time. We’re all just walking each other home, so maybe we should treat each other like it.

Maybe instead of investing our lives into the leadership of dishonest people, it’s time to start taking control of our own lives. Whoever gets voted in in May, it’s too late for them to take our power. We have each other, we have brains, we have souls, we have the internet and as a result, we have information. It’s spreading all the time and we, the next generation, are empowered by it.

But what does taking charge of your own life mean? It means starting to pay attention to how you contribute to the world and live by your beliefs.

If you think climate change is worrying for the future, start cycling to work. If you think money is the root of all evil, reduce your reliance on it. If you think it is fear that is holding you back, start meditating, go travelling, leave your comfort zone. If you think genetically modified food is affecting our health – go and spend some time volunteering on an organic farm. You’ll get food and a bed in exchange for your work – thus reducing your reliance on money while you’re at it.

You are the only leader you need to follow – don’t be fooled into living your lives under the command of anyone else. Freedom for all!

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