Even though there have been exceptional, well-respected politicians and great leaders throughout world history and even in our time, honestly, I don't like politics. I don't even like talking about politics. The word "politics" comes from the Greek word Πολιτικά (politika). In folk etymology, to highlight the unpleasant image concerning the hypocrisy of politicians, people will say that "poli," meaning "very," and "tika," meaning "face." In other jokes, people say the "poli-" in "politics" means "many" and "-tics" refers to the parasites that suck blood in order to characterize the notorious feelings often evoked by the term. These simple explanations are enough to clarify why I don't like politics. However, since the Gezi demonstrations started last spring, it's been impossible not to hear or talk about politics with regard to Turkey.
A politician has to talk. He or she has to have great public speaking skills and manners. When we speak effectively, develop our own personal style and build poise and confidence communicating with an audience, we can discover our "power voice" within and realize how the correct use of that voice can lead us to be well understood.
Actually, in the American education system, the ability to give class presentations is key for academic success. From an early age, children are taught poise and public speaking. In such classes, learners do diaphragmatic breathing exercises as the foundation for developing a powerful vocal sound and speech exercises to promote the correct use of the vocal chords and to further develop speech articulation and elocution. They are also taught how body language impacts communication, such as the importance of eye contact with the audience, good physical posture, a natural use of gestures and movement, awareness of audience response, and well-developed listening skills.
This knowledge a politician can "purchase" through poise and public speaking classes, but intelligence, wisdom and insight are not for sale. If a politician is not naturally bright, he or she does not have much of a chance to become a good orator.
When we look at Turkish politicians nowadays, I don't think many of the politicians either present themselves well or respond well to questions. Since their performance is insufficient and they are often careless with their comments, their opponents and their followers go crazy on social media and heated discussions get uglier with every day.
The way Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan behaves shows us that he still doesn't fully understand and that he has not fully internalized democracy. He is viewed more and more as an autocrat rather than a democrat. Yet it is during our most difficult times that we learn the most. I hope that Turkey is now learning that real democracy means having transparency and accountability in all sectors and that freedom of expression is not meant to be the liberty to humiliate or accuse someone, but is meant to guarantee the ability to freely defend your thoughts and ideas.
Things have been changing so quickly in Turkish politics recently, with deputies resigning, ministers' sons being detained, and some businessmen being investigated for graft. We all wonder what's next? It feels like there will be plenty of unforgettable "Oops!" moments for the politicians and especially for the prime minister. Politicians will have to be extra cautious so as not to make any obnoxious comments as a result of their lack of common sense, intellect and wisdom.
American writer Eric Hoffer stated, "The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist."
Careless statements are not even close to what a good leader would say. A great leader cares about what he or she has to say because he or she knows that; otherwise, you are not a leader, you're a pontificator and pontificators don't get far in politics.
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