Lessons from the American election

I am writing this the day of the election, and it went to print long before the final results, so instead of talking results, I want to talk about the issues that this election has brought to the forefront of my view on politics.

In this election politics has become a battle of branding and image instead of a battle of policies and governance. Charisma is still ridiculously important. Not only should politicians be charming and enthusiastic, they also have to say the right things without appearing to filter what they are saying. They can spout big enthusiastic nothings, but if they say it with the right energy and tone, people will cheer, and if people are cheering than other people are paying attention, right?

It’s funny because during the campaign personality matters and as soon as a leader is elected what they do matters. But how can we judge how someone will act during tough situations based on charisma and branding?

Second that marginalization, hate and close mindedness still run rampant. More rampant than I thought. Where does this come from? Is it a product of an under-educated population? Are people so downtrodden that they are looking for something, anything that will radically change the system, just because they feel there is no other way?

The more I read about supporters of either candidate, the more I realized that the States isn’t the superpower I thought it was. Maybe their military forces still lead the world, maybe their movies are watched in more countries than any other, but it doesn’t seem to have put the general population any further ahead than other first world countries on the globe. Maybe I should have already realized this, but I never had reason to connect the dots before this election.

Third, media coverage has so much more influence than I realized. Just like making an upcoming storm seem like a bigger deal just because it is in the news, how much has the media contributed to this election fiasco? Where is the line and was it crossed? But that is a whole other discussion that will continued in the news room from now until the end of time.

This also raises to question Facebook and other social media and the algorithms they use. Did you know that your Facebook news feed shows you stories and advertisements that it thinks you will be interested in. So if you have been laughing at Trump propaganda and clicking through hate on Hillary Clinton articles, you will see more of the same on your news feed and the views from the other side will get lost in the shuffle. I have to actively look on sources outside of Facebook (which I do anyway, it’s kind of my job), otherwise I get caught in an endless spiral that affirms what I already think, without any views from the opposition. It is kind of scary.

Now, maybe all of the media coverage has blown this election out of proportion. How much power does the president actually have anyway? We will see what changes in the next four years, for better or worse, all we can do up here is wait, shake our heads and write opinion columns that won’t do much of anything.


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