In the quiet stillness of early mornings my roaming mind will see similarities in concepts that sometimes will, and sometimes not, survive the sun’s arrival. One such thought is whether there is such a thing as a “Don Quixote Political Candidate?”
Don Quixote refers to the character in the classic book “Don Quixote,”
written by Miguel De Cervantes, who was born in Spain in 1547. Little is known about Miguel’s life until he completed his military service in 1575. During his attempt to sail home from Italy, his ship was captured by Barbary Corsairs, who sold him into slavery for a Greek in Algiers. He tried to escape but was caught and sentenced to prison until the Viceroy of Algiers, impressed by his bravery, bought his freedom.
Starting in 1582, Miguel began writing although his new wife’s spending exceeding his moderate success caused him to begin providing provisions for the Spanish Armada. After an agent stole his provisions, he was sent to jail, where he created the character Don Quixote in a short story.
Best bet is Miguel, much like my attempts to write fiction, was inspired by some of the characters that he had encountered to create Don Quixote with a self-righteousness that he, and only he, could save the country.
“Don Quixote Candidates” are candidates so self-righteous that they believe they, and only they, can save the rest of us by influencing the decision-making process of a specific group of people. These candidates want them to join them in attacking Don Quixote’s imaginary windmills.
Identifying Don Quixote Candidates is sometimes difficult because of the constant bombardment of stimuli that forces us to make those important first impressions quickly.
These candidates typically carry “stage directions,” with such notes on where to stand and who to call on for questions, before they read someone else’s words. Does this sound familiar?
One Don Quixote Candidates start reading from their “script,” here are few of the phases they tend to say.
1. “My opponent discriminates based on (fill in the blanks with whatever the campaigner thinks he/she can sell to the Sanchos of the world). If the candidate is uncertain about what word to use,the candidate simply uses the term “deplorables.”
2. “I am for the environment.” But that’s meaningless until someone campaigns against the environment.
3. “My regret is that I was not able to successfully convey my full message” — when many times the problem was the candidate did convey that message.
4. “I wish they would agree to end partisan politics,” a self-serving statement typically used by the party just after, but never before, they lost their majority.
5. “He is Un-American” or “does not represent American values,” implies that only this Don Quixote Candidate has the list of American values.
6. “I am not perfect,” which is a clever way to have people compare him to a standard that everyone agrees cannot be achieved, rather than comparing his performance against a realistic standard.
7. “I am against photo identification to vote,” but not for security at my rallies.
8. “I am laser focused on that,” typically means the opposite, but if true, it means they are failing to accomplish the primary goal.
9. “We are working 24-7 on that,” without defining who the “we” is or what is the specific progress.
10. “We have the proof but cannot show you as it is under investigation,” is used to create an impression of guilt without any proof.
These candidates use platitudes, which are statements with a moral content that have been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful, to hide their lack of achievements, or even worse, their failures. Their thought processes could be described by the lyrics from the song “Windmills of Your Mind” from the 1968 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair”:
A circle in a spiral, a wheel within a wheel Never ending or beginning, on an ever-spinning reel As the image unwind, like the circles that you find In the windmills of your mind.
Don Quixote Candidates, like Don Quixote, attract people who, like the duke of Saragossa, recognize and use his “windmills” to their advantage: those he harms, like the guards of the prisoners the Don frees; those who are hurt by believing in him, like Sancho who suffered abuse as the pretend governor of Barataria before having to face the damages his following the Don did to his wife and six children; and those based on his past performances tune him out.
Don Quixote Candidates fade back into oblivion without a great many “Sanchos.” In the next election, will you vote to be one of them?
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. His website is OneheartTwoLivescom.wordpress.com. Formerly, he taught law and business at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”