To me, the message of the song is keep true to yourself, and don't "play yourself" - i.e. at the end of the day if you start looking outside yourself for validation too much, then you are at risk of playing yourself or deluding yourself. As the lyrics say
Think anything else and ya playin' yaself "
So, what's this to do with politics? Well, I like the Libby Local series of posts on LibDemVoice - the well meaning intention, is, I believe, to show the actions of a fictional, first time council candidate as they campaign, and examine and understand the process. I like the series and think I understand the spirit it was meant in - not completely perfect, but an idea of what's involved.The most recent installment really set me thinking: Episode 15 - vile politics.
Having read it, I was struck how poor Libby, having just been insulted terribly by Mad Max's literature intentionally slurring her for being overweight, but without mentioning her by name, did a few things - none of which I would have thought conducive to improving her self-esteem about her weight - though they may have made her feel better they didn't really address the issue of her agreeing, internally, with Max's insult.
Libby pointed out to her opponent that she had more support in the pub (external validation) and then went on to "work harder" (which deserves a post of it's own!) and then significantly, encountered a wave of positive external validation about her campaign from the bus driver and passengers, which must have been lovely, but had nothing to do with her negative beliefs about herself that Mad Max tapped into....... Essentially she was avoiding the problem......
I thought this was fascinating and discussed with some others: whatever motivations people have for getting into politics (i.e. often to "make things better") when subjected to negative personal attacks, what are we doing with that hurt? Are we feeling it? Are we working through the negative beliefs about ourselves and addressing them.... Or, are we attempting to mend our self-esteem through action outside of ourselves? It's worth thinking about.
I started to wonder if that was a more regular situation for activists than I thought - that activists and candidates may be attacked on their weak spots (and are probably likely to be) but then go on to suppress, ignore or counter those emotions instead of feeling them?
Let's look at what Libby chose not to say to herself about Max's insult - Not "I'm fat and I don't care" Not, "He's an idiot and I don't care what he says" Not "I may be fat, but I'm funny and attractive and I like myself". She internalises the insult, agrees with it, and THEN seeks to make herself feel better by concentrating on other people loving her.
That, I think, is the dodgy bit. No, it's not all bad that people love her. What is interesting is that that appears to be all she cares about rather than her relationship with herself.
Plus, I think it's bound to create a few problems along the line. The people love her because they think she's the best choice for Libbyshire, they don't know about all this internal angst, and that can create problems in any relationship - and as discussed before I think there is a relationship between politicans and the electorate.
If you look at politics as making the world better, and oneself as a conduit to that through people's needs and wants and you as a mechanism for achieving them in government, then being called fat is your personal issue (and should be resolved as such, by paying attention to your self esteem and your emotions)
It's not for you to link your self esteem to your success in elections and especially not to avoid your emotions and "squash" them by the thought that "these people love me" . I think it may actually be dishonest - to yourself and to the electorate who think you are the best person to fix their potholes, they aren't out to make you feel better about your personal issues.
And what happens if she doesn't get elected - that's a double whammy isn't it - she has to suffer personal attacks AND she finds out the electorate don't "love" her?? Surely that's going to feel twice as bad, plus she may link the two and feel they didn't vote for her because she is fat and feel really, really bad.....
If she does get elected there is still an unresolved issue, she's been hurt by this guy and her self-esteem wounded.....
And finally, when does she actually fix the self-esteem issue in this? When does she realise there IS a self-esteem issue?
So, to come back to the beginning, let's try and be sure we're not playing ourselves?