The 2016 presidential races have begun. So starts the grueling, slow lumber that leaves one contestant limping across finish line.
I understand political races are inevitable, and they aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If you want people to vote for you, you need to convince them your policies and plans are viable. This entails a certain level of competition against other candidates. Debates, conversations and logical arguments are a healthy part of solving problems.
What makes me shudder about the prospect of sitting through another presidential race is how little rational argument is put into campaigning. Utah invariably goes to the Republican candidate, so we don’t see too many advertisements. But go spend some time in a swing state; you can’t escape the constant barrage of mudslinging and grandstanding.
Asking politicians to appeal to our intelligence and treat voters like adults doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Just once I’d like to see a candidate, from either party, sit down for a half hour and rationally explain how an issue can be solved.
Give us a preview of how a serious, determined president will take life-threatening problems like economic reform, defense spending decrease or healthcare and make sacrifices to improve the quality of life for citizens. Throw partisanship and exhausting political pandering to the side; say what you see needs to be fixed and how you plan to fix it.
Debates should showcase excellent, thought-out strategies explained by honest, caring individuals. Appeal to logos, not pathos.
I realize I’m asking the impossible. In the next three years we’ll see endless rhetoric on the constitutionality on gay marriage, abortion, and the second amendment. I mean no offense to those of you dealing with crises related to abortion, have personal convictions about same-sex marriage, or are victims of gun abuse. But we can all agree these things are little more than popularity-boosters, smoke and mirrors to avoid tough questions that require tougher answers.
I shouldn’t really put all the blame on politicians. This is, in a great part, our fault.
We want our candidates to be celebrities, superheroes incapable of wrong. The opposition is the incarnate of evil: a backward-thinking tyrant or America-hating socialist. We don’t want to watch debates that require too much effort on our part or sacrifices.
We don’t want to expend too much effort at all.
Utah had the lowest voter turnout rate in the 2012 presidential election: 56 percent. We’re even worse with local elections, which happened last week. Unfortunately, local candidates, which are influenced by your vote more than president will ever be, are ignored. We want to be involved on a national scale, on the big stage. Above all, we want to be entertained.
With this in mind, I propose the following.
Let’s get Michael Bay to design a presidential campaign. Give him $300 million, a third of what Obama and Romney each spent. We’ll have an hour of footage to split up for ads, mostly explosions, car chases, CGI and our nominee looking awesome. The candidate will speak only in sound bites, staying far away from real problems.
The next three years are going to be full of fluff, spending, and exhaustion. Take time to educate yourself and be involved. Attend a local city council meeting; write a letter to the newspaper editor and your congressman. Peel away from TLC, Twitter, and Buzzfeed. Ultimately, we have to wake up and start acting like adults.
Joshua Wartena is a senior studying Journalism and Spanish at UVU and will graduate in Fall 2014. He is hoping to work as a middle-east correspondent or long-form magazine writer in South America. Josh is currently living in Orem and is the Opinions Section Editor