Columnists, Election 2016, Opinion, The Maturity Column

Personality-driven politics makes Trump falsely appealing

President John F. Kennedy was hot.

He was rich, educated and maintained a strong demeanor. That’s why, in the 1960 election, he was famously thought to have won the first televised debate, even though many listening on the radio thought Richard Nixon had won. The latter, who opted not to shave that morning, looked more like “Sesame Street’s” Bert if he put the unibrow on his chin instead.

This began a new era of politics, when television appearances would dictate how the mass population connected with a candidate, sometimes valuing their personality more than their qualifications. Eight years after Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election, he would appear on a famous sketch comedy show called “Laugh In” and jokingly utter their catch phrase, “Sock it to me?” to change the public view of him as one of the old guys in the balcony on “The Muppets.”

(If you’re playing along, that’s number two for “Drink every time Danny says Nixon was a puppet.”)

However, this new personality-centered politics faded with the continuation of the Vietnam War, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Cold War – which I believe down here is just below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That is, until Bill Clinton charmed his way past incumbent President George H. W. Bush by playing saxophone on “Arsenio Hall.” And then, in 2000, President George W. Bush became the “President you could get a beer with,” who made jokes and used to own the Texas Rangers. After that, it was President Barack Obama, who was young, had a big smile and promised “Hope” and “Change.”

Now, in 2016, it appears we might be due for our fourth straight persona-driven presidential election, with Donald Trump still somehow staying in the race with Hillary Clinton, despite literally bragging about groping women.

Say what you want about Trump – since he will anyway – but he has a captivating personality. When he talks, it’s entertaining. He delivers sound bites, seems authentic and delivers sound bites that seem authentically racist. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton seems like a downloaded Sims character for building a president. Keep note: it’s no surprise that Trump’s commercials say “Change,” just like the last guy who beat her.

Just as in most cartoons, it just feels like more fun to vote for the charismatic new guy. But of course, having a good personality doesn’t make you a qualified candidate, and having experience doesn’t mean you have the personality to inspire a nation – and keeping us calm is a big part of your job.

So, I’m not saying I support Trump or that I’m going to vote for him. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t. However, if you do, don’t do it because he is well-spoken, but because you too want to grope women, ban Muslim immigration and be Vladmir Putin’s puppet.

Okay, new Trump-puppet drinking game starts now. Might go a while…

Danny New is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The Maturity Column runs alternate Thursdays.

November 2, 2016

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Danny New


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