Celebrity should not overshadow candidate policy

Guest Column

As election day looms closer with a little more than two months remaining what factors are we really using to decide who is best suited to lead our country for the next four years?

Both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have made the rounds on radio, television and other media to put themselves out there as much as possible and to sway undecided voters.

One complaint I’ve often heard about both candidates is they’re portrayed more like celebrities and less like stewards of our society we empower to manage our country.

Why is it so important that Obama is associated with George Clooney or Romney with Donald Trump?

Why do we scrutinize every aspect of a candidate’s personal life and evaluate character almost to a greater degree than their political positions?

The fact is that it’s not enough to win votes with policy plans or going off past successes. Candidates for president in the modern-day 24-7 news-cycle society need to be like able to be elected.

That’s why Obama’s campaign wants you to know he likes basketball and why Romney’s campaign wants you to know he likes to jog.

It’s why we know more about Obama and Romney’s families than we know about parts of our own.

It’s also why polls taken in 2004 determined people would rather have a beer with President George W. Bush than with Senator John Kerry.

The idea of society focusing on who’s more likeable presents a huge problem for Romney, who is often portrayed as very wooden and out of touch.

In the eyes of my generation, Romney is that guy who likes the same movies and music as our grandfathers.

On the other hand, Obama is the guy who pioneered using Twitter for presidential campaigns in 2008, recently conducted an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, does brackets every year for March Madness and is personally promoting the release of an official White House beer recipe.

It’s difficult for any politician to come off as relatable since the majority of them are far removed from being able to empathize with the unemployed and those struggling in today’s economy, but Obama does a far better job of pretending to be a normal American than Romney.

While Obama’s lighthearted moments have come off as relatable to people, Romney’s efforts to do the same have
fallen flat.

It’s difficult for people to like you as a person when one of the few things a person knows about your personal life is that you own a horse that competed in Olympic dressage.

Neither Obama’s beer drinking nor Romney’s Olympic horse will solve today’s problems, but we as a society focus on these things because the subtle character judgments may be all some people use as criteria when they decide who to vote for.

We need to demand better from the media and ourselves.

It’s OK to get an idea from someone’s character, but what good does it do to scrutinize every little thing about a candidate’s personality, especially at the expense of overlooking the candidates’ records and policies?

Where’s the outrage over Obama not fulfilling 2008 campaign promises or Romney switching his position on a wide variety of issues?

When you go out and vote this November, decide what issues are important to you and find out where the candidates stand in order to make a more informed decision.

The media may want to portray the candidates as celebrities and analyze every aspect of their lives, but it’s voter’s job to circumvent that line of thinking and to walk into that voting booth knowing inside and out what the candidates have done and their political positions.

After all, we’re not electing the guy we’d most like to go grab a beer with, we’re electing the president of the United States.

Derek Letellier

Senior from Lincolnshire

studying journalism

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