Elections: A love story

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Apr 292012
 
Authors: Jefferson Freeman

I came into college during a presidential election year, and am going to be leaving during one. So I felt that my last column should be about why I enjoy the spectacle of elections so much. Elections are some of the deepest and most complicated analysis of human nature that I can think of. They encompass changing the minds of millions of people while constantly reacting to changing information.

The coming election cycle is set to be one of the most expensive, and entertaining, in history. I write this in the hope that my disinterested and apathetic peers will get sucked into the show of it all and maybe fall in love with elections as I have. I hear from a lot of people that they find politics very boring, which I think is a valid point if you haven’t given it a chance to suck you in. For me, however, once you get to know the characters, or how the narrative works, it’s just as engaging as sports talk, or celebrity gossip, with all of the same back table dealings, scandals and stupid remarks –– and that’s why I love elections

Politicians are funny creatures, careful to avoid offending any group of people, but yet spewing personal and pointed insults at other politicians every week. A political candidate needs to be harsh, but at the same time pleasant. They need to be smart, but not elitist, in that people want to feel like they can have a beer with their leaders in government. Politicians are constantly fighting for their job, and therefore always have an air about them of self-justification.

It’s like that one friend everyone has who is constantly one-upping everything, –– politicians are always trying to outdo their peers, and that’s why I love elections.

Even better are the pundits and reporters who cover the election cycle. The perpetual hype machine which is 24-hour cable news is fairly hilarious in its coverage of an election and especially a presidential election. These characters are the gossip hounds of the TV drama that is an election.
They take something and menial as what a candidate eats, and are able to turn it into a class dividing issue. There is more drama than a soap opera, and I eat it up. Every word uttered by politicians has the potential to become a News Alert, that interrupts the less important news like war or corporate scandal. Political pundits have taken over the election cycle, and even though they may have dumbed it down, they have made it quite the spectacle, and that’s why I love elections
Elections are interesting because they are no longer about the issues. Sure, the issues may be mentioned here and there, but when all the major news networks spend more time analyzing the body language and vocal variety of candidates than they do discussing platforms, it’s obviously not about political promises anymore. This is clearly not the best for the state of our politics as we should be more serious over who is elected, but it does make for an interesting exhibition of how the masses think.

Do we care more about how a politician acts and holds themselves than on what they plan to do in office? As your TV screen starts to become littered with political ads and the such, pay a bit of attention to how many talk about real issues and how many are merely about character flaws. I think it is quite funny when you start realizing that most ads have nothing to do with being president, but rather, are just meant to get you riled up –– and that’s why I love elections.

For all of you who have never paid the slightest attention to election cycles, I ask you not to do your research on the issues, or to figure out the platforms of politicians. But rather, I hope you will look at the spectacle of it all and revel in the fact that the dramedy that is the U.S. election cycle will only continue to get more hyped as new forms of media emerge. Once you are interested in the show of elections, you may eventually start to care about issues, and you may even do what no one our age does… vote.

Jefferson Freeman is a senior economics major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

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