True Life: I want to be President of The United States

By Michael Newberger | mnewberger@flagler.edu

It seems every subsequent election year, most people say to themselves “There’s no way that this could get any more ridiculous,” and I realize four years from now I’ll probably being saying this again as political ads become somehow personalized by our facebook interests. “Hi Bob! I see you you like the Pittsburgh Steelers! I’m Rick Santorum and I love em’ too! I also think that gays are bringing down the moral fiber of our country! Check out my link!”

But so far this Republican primary race has been a spectacle that is both supremely entertaining, while also hinting at the dystopian landscape that politics is starting to turn into.

There’s been a lot of criticism that the race is beginning to resemble a reality show. President Obama went so far as to question “which one had been voted off the island” on a recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

For a party that usually sticks to their guns when backing fellow conservatives, the debates have been pretty ugly. Each debate seems to bring us closer to Rick Perry challenging Mitt Romney to settle their issues “Texas Style” with twelve paces at dawn. While every race to the White House has its vitriol, this one has seen candidates becoming increasingly hostile to one another, both in person and the finger pointing that goes on behind the scenes.

People, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been blaming it on the candidates and the increasingly hostile world of politics since the bloodbath that was the 2010 mid-terms. But as with economics and the BCS Bowl System, it’s the men behind the curtain with their intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic who are in charge … and to blame. Roger Ailes, the demagogue behind Fox News, has outwardly admitted that by pitting the candidates against themselves, it leads to better fireworks and therefore better ratings.

And what a cast of characters! Explain the candidates without using politics and it almost sounds like a season of “The Real World.” There’s the straight and narrow “white-bread” character focused on getting ahead that no one really likes (Romney). The swaggering Texan that while loveable, gets confused easily and laughs off mistakes in an “awe-shucks manner” (Perry). The crazy girl who’s prone to go off on rants at the rest of the cast mates not entirely grounded in reality (Bachman). The 90s has-been who people mainly remember more for his off-screen love life than his previous work (Gingrich).

The party boy whose goofy quotes, love of pizza, and treatment of the campaign as a joke reminds voters of that loveable scamp Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, except that Michelangelo never sexually harassed April O’Neal (Cain). There’s the old timey-values, stick in the mud that is constantly complaining about “the gays” and how “kids don’t have respect these days” (Santoroum). The snarky-guy/intelligent-guy who’s relegated to the corner (Huntsman). And let’s not forget, the eccentric who while otherwise ignored by most of the audience has a devoted cult following will also go to great lengths to tell you why he’s the best, whether you care or not (Paul).

The media has gone on to cover the bickering of the candidates with the same interest that’s usually saved for whatever Kardashian organism is getting married. It’s disheartening that a lot of the media took Cain’s defense of his sexual harassment allegations, that Rick Perry’s campaign was running a sabotage campaign, somewhat seriously. That’s not even taking into account the fact that Fox News is all-but accusing the women who came out about it as being liars.

It seems there’s more and more of a focus on the candidates acts and appearances than what their stances. While this argument has probably been used since George Washington was etched unflatteringly in Ye Olde Politics Pamphlet, it seems we’re getting closer and closer to the point where Americans vote just for the “idea” of a candidate, not his or her views. In the long run, and at the rate the party and media are going, we’re going to have two or three more “frontrunners,” then the party is going to give up and pick Romney (despite the fact that the only person the party seems to hate more than him is Obama).¬† It doesn’t seem like people in America are speculating half as much as the media is.¬†Watching the battles is admittedly pretty fun, but it seems like it’s getting easier and easier to forget that these zany and entertaining people are running to be the leader of the free world, not the honor of making National Enquirer covers (John Edwards did both!).

But don’t worry if you’re getting tired of it, there’s only a little less of a year of constant speculation to go!

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