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Performance or politics?
Performance or politics?
Over the past few months, Australian news programs have been bombarded with information about the American Presidential elections. Sure, Australians care about their international policies, economic policies and role in international terrorism, but does anyone honestly care how much Governor Sarah Palin spent on her wardrobe?
Presidential hopefuls, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, have coughed up significant amounts of money to reach the people of
While it has become customary to reach out to the younger voters through popular techniques such as MySpace and Facebook, are Presidential hopefuls going to eventually need Hollywood writers and acting lessons to make it into the White House? More concerning, is
In previous American campaigns, celebrities and famous faces, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Bruce Willis, have put their names to particular campaigns in order to get the attention of potential voters to persuade them to vote for their favourite candidate. This election, however, the candidates are becoming the celebrities themselves. With appearances on popular television shows, such as Saturday Night Live, the David Letterman Show and the Oprah Winfrey Show, Presidential candidates need not to be worried if their political careers fall through because they now have acting as a back-up profession.
Understandably, it is becoming more and more necessary for candidates to stray from traditional campaigning methods to reach the tech-savvy, attention-deficit plagued younger voters; however, it wasn't until I saw Governor Palin on Saturday Night Live, a popular American comedy show, that I began to realize how ridiculous campaigning has actually become. I quickly began to research these types of appearances and noticed that all four Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates have put forth significant effort to appear on comedy shows, such as Saturday Night Live. Both Presidential candidates have made appearances on the David Letterman Show, the Ellen Degeneres Show and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a satirical political comedy show.
Michael F. Knox, an American voter, showed his concerns about the election campaigning and said: "I am afraid that this election may be decided on who is more witty and entertaining on comedy shows than on the real issues." What has been labelled the Saturday Night Live effect could possibly be what wins this election. Viewers who are politically uneducated see satire skits and are gullible enough to believe these comical spoofs. Watching Senator McCain and Senator Obama being interviewed by biased talk show hosts could possibly have become the most important speeches these candidates gave during the election.
With the Presidential candidates scurrying to find all the possible media entertainment outlets to appear on before Election Day, is anyone else in the world standing back and wondering why? Couldn't their time and money spent on appearing funny and "hip" be put towards a better cause?
Which brings us to the amount of money that goes into reaching voters. The Presidential money war began nearly a year ago when Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama campaigned till their last penny dropped – and that was only to win the right of running for President for their Party. The big figures that have been spent on political advertising in the Presidential campaigning have reached outrageous amounts. This money is being spent on television, radio and print advertisements, television appearances and – you guessed it – comedy appearances. With combined totals adding up to close to one billion dollars, is this uncontrolled haemorrhage of cash really necessary?
To put these figures into prospective, 36 million Americans are living in poverty; more specifically, these Americans are living on around $20,000 a year for a family of four. More than 12 million of American children are growing up in poverty everyday. Frustrating to think that the leaders of the American nation are throwing money away to razzle-dazzle their campaigns to "win" a competition while their citizens are literally starving.
Okay, the point must be made that the likelihood of all of this unnecessary campaigning is happening because voting is not compulsory, this meaning that candidates must do everything in their power to make their campaign appealing to American voters to physically get them to polling booths. So the question is, will this begin to happen in upcoming Australian political campaigns?
Kristine Dobell, an active and involved Australian voter, doesn't see Australian politicians succumbing to these measures to reach voters. The Australian campaigning systems stays close to the more traditional route of debates and public appearances simply discussing the issues, she said. "It isn't the Australian way…because we must vote, our politicians don't need to waste their time or money on entertaining us," she said.
Australian politicians, however, have begun to lean slightly toward our American friends with both John Howard and Kevin Rudd* creating MySpace profiles during the last election. YouTube has widely been used as a popular route for many politicians, including Rudd and Howard, to post advertisements and messages to young voters. I do also remember catching Prime Minister Rudd on an episode of Rove a time or two. With all of this tangible evidence, is it possible to argue against the long and windy road out of control that may lie ahead of us?
To be honest, I truly hope not. It has been incredibly entertaining watching the American politicians running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to entertain their voters; however, I will be satisfied if we just left that to the Americans. While our campaigns might not be quite as fun or interesting, the point of politics is not to entertain but to provide leadership and direction for our country. Right?
*Please note, the Kevin Rudd and John Howard MySpace pages could be fakes; however, I do believe they are their actual profiles.
Mango77774: David Letterman- John Mccain-Prt1-Oct-16-2008
rp4prez: Barack Obama Dances for Ellen
barackobamadotcom: Barack Obama on Ellen
givesyouwings: Kevin Rudd on Rove Part 1 (of 2)