Friday, October 21, 2016
Reality Show or the Future of America?
Every presidential election feels different from the last, but the changes seen in the demeanor of the 2016 presidential are more drastic than many expected to see in just four years. Maybe it’s the fact that Donald Trump ran half of his campaign through Twitter posts. Maybe it’s that both candidates often seem to be competing for the best one-liner instead of discussing policies. But putting the behavior of the candidates aside, the most shocking thing about this election is how much the American people are buying into all of the drama stirred up by these un-presidential actions.
During the 2016 election, the line between social media casualness and proper presidential procedure has become severely blurred. During Obama’s presidency, a new level of silliness and personal-ness developed in the relationship between president and American people. Social media allowed a more personal insight into the Obamas’ life. We learned about his whole family and fell in love with his wife and dogs. We saw his goofy interviews and occasional snap chats. The small taste of Obama’s goofy and more “human” side, left us with a picture of his personality. When it came to speaking, however, Obama found a way to still be personal without dragging his social media endeavors into his speeches. Because social media has become such a large part of the everyday lives of most Americans, it is almost natural that is would become a part of the rhetoric of the election. Using what is said on Twitter or Instagram to make a point in a debate is valid in an era where people tend to be more true to themselves when hiding behind a screen. However, Trump and Clinton seem to take it one step further and carry the aggressive and uncivilized-ness that comes with hiding behind a screen onto the debate stage or podium.
The inability to follow debate procedure comes from the ability that social media provides to say whatever is on your mind the second you think of it. Trump is very active on Twitter. His ill-formed and frequent tweets often seem like spur of the moment brain- vomit. This might be one reason for his inability to let anyone talk without interrupting. The second an idea pops into his head, or he disagrees with something, he feels the immediate need get his own thoughts heard, instead of taking a second to process the ideas of his opponent. Both candidates seem, on some level, to have lost respect for the debate process as a whole. The debate is supposed to provide undecided voters with a chance to hear the ideas and policies of each candidate spelled out, while getting a chance to see their speaking skills and body language. Instead, it has turned into a chaotic free-for-all filled with personal jabs and interruptions. Both the candidates and the American people seem to be more interested in the social media reactions that come afterwards than being engaged in the actual event and discussion.
The American people seem to have shifted in the way they receive the election rhetoric, viewing it as a reality show rather than the future of America. For many, this reaction might be masking the fear that comes with hearing the sometimes terrifying policies of Trump. However, regardless of reason, most Americans seem to have their focus on Trump and Hillary memes than their actual policies. The last few weeks have been very dramatic and tension-filled, but it is important for the American people to stay focused and remember what actually matters.