Diligently trying to follow the presidential debate word for word, I was hoping that this time, at age 20, some of the terminology and concepts would be familiar to me. And, I guess to an extent, I was able to grasp more than usual, but I still found myself trying to scavenge through a maze of concepts that I did not understand, and if anything, this debate only lead me to affirm my growing sentiment that politics is, after all the head-scratching and critical analysis, a circular subject. The same issues will be argued over and over again, while both sides smile pleasantly for the camera and, during their candidacy, will be the friendliest, most tolerant people on earth just to gain your vote. I feel that I could relate to these politicians more if they were not so damn perfect. I mean, really. They argue their points with proficient articulation and are scrupulous on keeping tabs on a squeaky clean public perception, never allowing themselves to show vulnerability or admit intellectual defeat. They present themselves as such super-human figures with such an unflappable sense of control, that I find myself feeling distanced from them. Watching them so calculatedly portray themselves as figures of such unbreakable conviction, and so blatantly act out a character that probably only represents a mere fraction of who they really are, only deters me from engaging in politics, because frankly, I do not want to be part of some circus show in which people feign as friendly, upright, and essentially perfect human beings just to feed me propaganda that has little practical value. How much of what they say do they actually mean, anyway? Are politicians not known to lie when it is convenient? Of course they are, because it is all about public perception, popularity, and power. Unfortunately, all of these factors play into the fact that I cannot get myself to trust our government.
Now, I am certainly not saying that people who are heavily involved in politics are wasting their time – everyone has their own interests and opinions. But observing the candidates on television just further convinces me that these guys are phony celebrities, who fool the public into buying into this petty, cyclical game. I guess I wish they would just lighten up. They crack jokes only when it is undoubtedly publicly acceptable, and probably only to gain brownie points in the personality aspect of the race. It just seems like too much of an act, a reality show; they are up there speaking gibberish while we sit at home and pretend we have an inkling of what really goes on in Washington (maybe some of us do and I am just an idiot, but for the purpose of this post I will assume that this is not the case). In a political science class I took last year, my professor nailed into our heads the notion that all politicians are actors – every single one. Now, I see that he could not have been more correct.
For all these reasons, I love when I see a candidate who comes off as genuine. This is essentially why I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. My perception was that this man was fearlessly standing for what he truly believed in, regardless of whether or not it would win him votes. He was not afraid to be a little cooky and get a little worked up, and at the same time, he never failed to demonstrate his intelligence and try to articulate it in a way that the public could understand. I wish there were more Ron Paul-like politicians.
But, until there are, I will have to try my very hardest to give politicians the benefit of the doubt and ignore the terrifying voice in my head that tells me this is all just a more politically correct version of Jersey Shore. Which, by the way, is a show I will not miss when it goes off the air after this season.