The political popularity contest


I always tried to avoid the tables complete with the bright colored balloons and overly zealous volunteers during the end of winter semester. I don’t have anything against those students who relentlessly tried to get me to take a flier and a lollipop. After all, they were just trying to help their friends get elected, but I did not want to listen to the campaign pitches for those running in the BYUSA elections.

I don’t have anything against BYUSA; I just knew that the most popular candidates were going to win. It did not necessarily have anything to do with what they “stood for.” In a way, it’s a popularity contest just like it was in junior high and high school.

When I was finally able to vote in presidential elections, I was pumped. For the first time in my life, I was going to help determine who would lead the country in a certain capacity. It was a nice change to be engaged in “real politics,” not just a school election. However, I quickly learned that my idea of “real politics,” or exercising my civil duty, was not much different than the previous elections I had voted in.

I’m afraid our nation’s elections, on both a federal and state level, have turned into a popularity contest as well. Politicians are no longer trying to be politicians — they want to be celebrities.

Just this last week I was watching the hilarious talk show “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Fallon is witty, creative and a downright comedic genius. I was loving it, until New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed up to “slow jam the news.”

Sure, it was funny hearing Christie and Fallon take shots at each other, but doesn’t Christie have anything better to do than appear on a late night show?

AP Photo
AP Photo

If I’m not mistaken, Gov. Christie’s state was hit with a pretty nasty storm just a little over eight months ago and there are still people trying to recover from the devastating effects. He also has a special election to worry about and a PR mess to deal with surrounding Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey. Granted, Rutgers shouldn’t be at the top of his priority list, but these other things should take some precedence over slow jamming.

It’s not just a Christie thing; it’s also a problem in the White House. Who could forget First Lady Michelle Obama’s controversial appearance at the Oscars? I didn’t think it was a huge deal; it’s just that it contributes to the blurred lines between politics and fame.

I don’t want to see pictures of our president rubbing shoulders with Jay-Z and George Clooney. I’m glad he has friends and all, but I would rather get answers to questions like: what happened in Benghazi, why are my phone calls being recorded by the NSA, and who knows what about the IRS targeting conservative groups?

I’m tired of seeing politicians in “Access Hollywood” segments. I don’t want to see them on shows like “The View.” This isn’t high school; it shouldn’t be a popularity contest. These officials were elected to do a job, not try to be the cool kid that lands on the front of People Magazine.

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