As the primary season enters full swing, the major news channels have centered their attention on each of the candidates. The missteps have come out on all fronts: Huckabee’s homophobic remarks; bigoted newsletters in the name of Ron Paul; Giuliani’s use of state money to go on a trip with his mistress as well as his emerging shady business practices; Edward’s $400 haircut; Richardson’s Univision and logo debate disasters; Romney’s constant flip-flop on the major objects; McCain’s insistence on amnesty, allegiance to Bush and his financial fiasco; and Clinton’s vote on the war and, as unimaginable as it may seem, her recent a burst of emotion.
The list could go on forever. Whoever the choice may be, whatever party one may choose to follow, the candidates seem to be involved in a race of the “least disgraced.” Some candidates’ faux pas may be a lot simpler than others, but this emphasis on the mistakes of candidates, especially those not of a distant past but those committed during a hectic campaign, seems to focus on the wrong issues.
I can only hear about Clinton’s or Obama’s stands on welfare by viewing debate coverage, quite exhaustively at that, yet I have seen the coverage of her “emotional breakdown” on all channels. I’ve heard more about Kerry endorsing Obama than his stance on immigration. I’ve heard more about Huckabee’s lack of foreign knowledge- perhaps attributed to his being so immersed in his campaign- than any of his stances.
It’s clear that at times this political institution of ours is more of a media endeavor than a truly democratic process. As we turn to our media to inform us on the issues most important to us, it becomes necessary for us to insist on the information we need. What are the candidates offering? That is the ultimate question. Not their religion. Not their marital status, sex or race, but what have they done, and what can they do, for me?
Everyone is looking for something different in their candidates. This uniform coverage- blanket yet superficial- makes this democratic process seem obsolete. Let’s not get started on the idea of the Oprah factor for Obama. Next time we discard a candidate for one misstep, in one day, in a very long campaign (remember Howard Dean anyone?), we might lose ourselves to it and find ourselves in a hole yet again with a president’s son sneaking into the White House.
Debora Rubi is a freshman majoring in journalism and English. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.