Have you seen the new Alice in Wonderland movie -- that is, the one that came out in 2010? Throughout the movie there is much debate about whether or not Alice is "the" Alice -- the real Alice of the past. The best scene of all, in my opinion, is when the Mad Hatter tells Alice something like, "You used to be much muchier before. Yes, you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness."
The grammar and spellcheck on my computer says there is no such word as "muchness," and I have to admit that I had never used the word, or, to the best of my knowledge, had not even heard the word used. But just to make certain, I turned to my Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. And guess what -- I discovered that "muchness" has been used in the English language as a legitimate word for over nine hundred years.
So, just what does "muchness" mean? It refers to the characteristic of being "very much the same." When used of a person, it refers to a person being "very much the same" as he or she always has been -- that is, being true to one's self, being the real you. If, on the other hand, a person has lost his or her muchness, it suggests that the person is no longer like he/she used to be, unfavorably implying not being true to one's self.
In trying to attract voters, politicians frequently lose their muchness. This isn't accidental; it's intentional! We have seen very successful politicians of both major parties lose their muchness. During the caucuses and campaigns leading up to the primary elections they take positions that will appeal to their respective political bases in order to get selected to represent their parties during the general election. Then they move to the center or wherever they think they need to in order to attract as many voters as possible, paying little attention to their muchness.
Well, we are now in the midst of the general election. And now it's time for both President Obama and Governor Romney to reveal their true muchness -- to tell us voters who they really are, what they really stand for, and what we can truly expect of them if elected president.
You may remember the popular TV program To Tell the Truth. Three people would each claim to be "John Smith" or whoever. A celebrity panel would ask questions of the three, trying to determine who the real Mr. Smith was. At the end, the MC would say, "Will the real John Smith, please stand up."
Well, it's time for the real Barack Obama and the real Mitt Romney to stand up. Let us voters get a good look at your muchness.
This article is not meant to favor either the left or the right -- it is meant to focus on the very important characteristic of candidates being who they really are, rather than trying to be well liked or politically correct. There is nothing worse than artificiality, and it is usually pretty easily recognized, except that politicians today employ large staffs who, unfortunately, are thoroughly proficient at creating artificial and popular images of their respective candidates, successfully covering up who they are and what they really stand for. This seems so strange to me; I was reared to be proud of my heritage -- of who I really am.
So this is my advice to all the political candidates -- Republicans and Democrats: during the remaining weeks of the current election just be yourself, and let the chips fall where they may. People would really appreciate your doing this. And that seems to me pretty good advice not only for politicians, but also for all people: stop trying to impress others, and just be yourself. You'll find that in the end you will impress more people by holding on to your muchness than by trying to be popular.
I really wish the real Barack Obama and real Mitt Romney would stand up, starting with this week's presidential debate.
Follow William B. Bradshaw on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BradshawBud