Opinion

Entertainment value of elections down, out

What could provide more hope than seeing a rapidly diminishing field of heavily made-up individuals fight for the ability to act as the country’s temporary head honcho? The whole affair is a bit sad, really, because as time has worn on it has become all too apparent that the race is failing in its prime objective: entertainment.

Super Tuesday didn’t help matters. Now that the Republicans have all but chosen their candidate, the interfamily squabbles over “authenticity” that have made their race so deliciously compelling are a thing of the past and the public must now rely on the Democrats and their now-dull “fight for change” to entertain them for the next five months.

Clearly, though, even if Super Tuesday had given the leading candidates the delegates needed to continue the “great candidate search” for a few more months, the entertainment value of the race would still have come into question because the candidates have been sparring over the same material and in the same ways for months now.

The veneer of mutual respect among our future leaders is wearing a bit thin. With that in mind, why not take a cue from one of the country’s most successful entertainment franchises? Why not run the elections a little more like World Wrestling Entertainment runs its fights?

All the fundamentals are in place. A media ready and willing to cover almost every fight, a public eager to see the erstwhile stars of the stage hit each other where it hurts and an infrastructure of venues for the fights (debates) are all in place. Each of the three leading candidates has a core following equally as devoted as that of the most popular WWE stars. And, just as in the WWE, the media usually divides the contenders into heroes and villains before the fights begin.

Think of how compelling an election could be if all the media entities and PR personnel for the candidates came together to produce a carefully orchestrated show. Debates would be few and far between, but every one that did occur would be advertised with an extensive media blitz well over a month in advance. Each candidate would be given a certain public persona and told to adhere rigidly to it in and outside of the debates. Certain candidates would be cast as spawn of the darkness; others could bask in the glow of an adulatory public swayed by sources of information that refused to deride the anointed saviors.

Both candidates would be chosen months in advance, but the races would still be run to give the public something to watch with bated breath until the coronation conventions. Sure, the integrity of the electoral process would be mortgaged completely for the sake of entertainment. But history has shown that those candidates best able to present themselves to the public end up winning the nominations and elections anyway. Why not take advantage of that?

Andrew Hamner is a freshman majoring in journalism. He may be contacted at a.hamner@miami.edu.

February 11, 2008

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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