Who is charismatic Obama or Trump

Political debate culture : Charisma and chaos in politics

Heaven help! We are suffocating! Please send us a savior like Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau or Sebastian Kurz! Oxygen! We have Merkel, the great silent one, we have Nahles, the little lute, we have stiff retro knights like Jens Spahn or Alexander Dobrindt, who wear the habitus of their grandfathers as a rebellion suit, we have Christian Lindner's postheroic charisma design. Where are the sparks? Where is the enchanted guide who enchants us? But aren't such longing calls politically regressive? What followed charismatics like John F. Kennedy, Willy Brandt or Barack Obama? Couldn't the deficit of democratic inspiration be resolved in another way? Don't we need a different understanding of charismatic leadership in the 21st century? Is the aura alpha animal contemporary?

A feeling of disenchantment remains

David Letterman, the legendary US late night talker, now wears a biblical beard. The gaunt Dave, formerly known for his ironic-sarcastic style, has gone among the disciples, among the repentant believers. The first episode of his new talk show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction" featured Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and Letterman's Messiah. Obama was sovereign, funny, quick-witted, virtuoso in addressing his messages and very, very charismatic. You immediately felt enveloped in a cloak of care and example, as a spectator you were ready to fall on your knees from the sofa, to bend over and yet ... yes ... and yet doubts remained, a feeling of disappointment and disenchantment remained. Why?

Letterman addressed Obama several times as “Mr. President ”and said he would have to go to the Oval Office right away. In this punch line there was a bit of fading out of reality and repression, for the name of Lord Voldemort of politics should not be mentioned. Can it be that Obama's charisma has something to do with the success of the destructive charismatic Donald Trump? Obama always acted integratively and consensus-oriented on the stage of his office, linguistically, gestural and performative. He set standards. And yet his community-building charisma seems to have had polarizing effects. Obama always saw the right series ("The Wire"), he always read the right books, he always heard the right music, he always hit the right note - no matter how desperate the situation (rampage, school massacre). But this stylistic perfection had its downsides and that does not mean the political implementation deficits, the gap between announcement and realization, but the - unintentionally - downgrading and excluding potential of this exclusive charisma. Unscrupulous real estate speculator Trump sowed poison here: Was the guy who worried The Donald even born in America? Has anyone seen their birth certificate? Unlike Obama, Trump didn't read books but business reports, he didn't watch any series, he was his own show (“The Apprentice”), he collected houses, women, bankruptcies, he - the narcissistic gambler - never did the appropriate thing.

Obama made the "average person" look small and puny

But precisely because the man is his own show, his voters trust him, consider him authentic and charismatic. His way of speaking and performing appeals to those who see themselves as outcast, those "average people" who feel humiliated, not least by an Afro-American charismatic whose habitual invulnerability, whose deluxe charisma made them look small and miserable. Obama's charisma aroused the racist spirits, although the president did everything possible to reduce such tensions. The more charismatic Obama acted, the more susceptible the voters were to the charisma clown Trump, who was not looking for the world stage to reconcile, but always the next microphone to beat nationalistically.

Our traditional understanding of charisma, shaped by Max Weber, has many blind spots. Can only men be charismatic? Where are the leaders, the seers? What role does the media play in the formation of charismatic rule? In the 21st century, is it still possible to distinguish between sincerity, authenticity, mask and staging? Can't collectives also act charismatically? Do charismatics have to be reconciliation-oriented or should they rebel? And can populists only win if a charismatic is at their head?

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