Why Do We Elect The People We Elect?
I’ve gone through 13 presidents in my lifetime. I obviously was not old enough to vote for all of them. In fact at the time I’m not sure which election was my first.
The Change in Voting Age
The first year I was eligible to vote in any election was 1965 at the age of 22. Why didn’t I vote a year earlier when I was 21? Because my birthday falls after Election Day each year.
So I had to wait until the 1968 election between Nixon and Humphrey for my first vote.
In 1971 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years of age. It would have been nice of them to do that sooner.
We’ve had a few non-elected presidents in my lifetime Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson were Vice Presidents to presidents who died while in office. Gerald Ford became president after the Nixon resignation.
TV Elected Kennedy
The 1960 election was very historic when the first televised debates took place between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy.
People hearing the debate on radio thought Nixon won the debate. Those watching on TV felt just the opposite.
Seeing Nixon sweating while JFK seem cool and calm swayed many voters at the time. Did personality and appearance trump issues and political positions?
In that election it clearly did.
How Are Candidates Elected Today?
Today thanks to TV, spin-doctors, pollsters, marketers, and campaign experts and advisors, the issues have left the building.
All that’s left are the pearly white smiles of the candidates, and the robotic replies of their handlers. Whatever the question do not deviate from the message.
Now it’s all about personalities. Personal attacks, negative ads, finding the scandals of the past or present. What can we find to crush the opponent?
Gary Hart, Herman Cain, and John Edwards were political rising stars that had those stars snuffed out by affairs. Howard Dean’s candidacy was sidetracked by something as silly as his screaming campaign speech that went viral on the Internet.
Make the wrong gesture, upset the wrong group, be on the wrong side of a controversial issue, and you can be dead in the water by the following day.
All’s fair in love, war and politics. But the last one takes no prisoners.
Even if you are able raise the money, be found by pollsters, and connect with your party, and voters that one misstep can end it all.
Some Final Thoughts
Everyone says they want honest, sincere candidates. People who will tell it like it is. Stand up for their principles and their critics be damned.
It would be so nice to find someone like that but the chances of them being elected are slim and none. We say that’s what we want yet when we blacken that oval in the voting booth most of us vote our own self-interests.
We only care about the poor if we’re poor, the sick if we’re sick, and entitlements if we’re getting them.
Whoever can get us the stuff we want will get our vote.
There’s an old saying among professional speakers, “No one will remember what you said, or what you did, they will only remember how you made them feel.”
If you can make ‘em feel — you will get the office.