On Tuesday night I went to a lecture for my art history class. The last thing I would have expected was for it to give me an idea on what to write about for my blogging. The lecture was on a painting titled President Elect which contains a picture of President Kennedy. During the lecture, the art historian Dr. Michael Lobel said that by the 1960’s, politics had become advertising; our nation was being sold Presidents.
His remark reminded me of the class discussion we had the other day on Sarah Palin and presidential elections. I had mentioned how degrading it was for the United States to have its Presidential candidates try and appear like celebrities to try and win votes. And answering questions like what music they like or who their favorite actors or actresses are is pointless, since it does not address the important issues of our country like national security or the plight of the economy.
It seems that with each presidential election, the candidates are becoming more concerned about trying to win votes not by their platform of ideas but by their image. It is almost like ideology is becoming less and less relevant in the presidential elections. In Freeden’s book, he says that ideology can never cease to exist in the world (38). But can it stop existing in the sphere of elections in the United States? Will we one day be voting for a candidate, because they are more handsome or because they like Prada instead of Gucci?
Presidential elections have also gotten more media coverage over the past few elections, and people seem to be getting more interested in voting and elections. Now this could be, because of the state that our country is in right now. Again, our economy is doing poorly, and the Iraq War is a mess. Or could it be, because presidential elections have become to resemble the Hollywood scene more, since we get to read about stuff like the juicy details of the candidates’ families?
I feel like people are more interested in presidential elections, because they deal less with issues people want to ignore (is there global warming?) and more with our consumer driven-pop culture. I have seen the candidates for this election on People magazine where they willingly get interviewed and also on TV talk shows like the View or the Ellen Degeneres Show. By doing this, the candidates are able to reach a larger audience and possibly get these people inspired to participate in the elections, but at what expense? The presidential candidates avoid talking about the tough issues, because people do not want to read or watch something that reminds them of the problems or conflicts in our country. So, over time people could begin to vote more and more for a candidate not entirely based on what ideology they believe in or what issues they believe in, but for whose image they like best. It would be the downfall of our nation if over time our presidential elections practically reduced themselves to resemble class elections in schools where kids vote for the most popular kid not because that kid will do anything for them but because he/she is cool.