Trump v. Clinton: How Media Treats Candidates Like Kardashians

posted on October 6, 2016

“Hey Clay, did you watch the debate last night?” 

I was about to leave for the office Tuesday morning when Chris, the construction foreman building homes in my neighborhood, called out to me. Chris is a man who builds things, all tattoos, earrings, cigarette smoke and mischief. We often have entertaining conversations in the middle of the street, usually on politics. 

I told him that yes, I did, and began to describe the nuances, the nervous tics, the personality traits and the tactics (or lack thereof) that influenced the ebb and flow of the debate. Satisfied with my analysis, I asked Chris, “What did you think?” 

Chris said, “When I heard her say she wants debt-free college and more solar panels, I shouted at the TV, ‘Who’s gonna pay for that?’” 

Clarity is humbling. After all, what is going to matter more to your children in 20 years: who is sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, or who was in the Miss Universe pageant?

Since Trump vs. Clinton I, media pundits have been shouting at each other over temperament, beauty pageants, emails, tax returns, tweets, gold standards and superpredators. They are engaged in a toxic relationship with the campaign, trying to score points in a game we’re all tired of watching. 

Simply put, the media is obsessed with personality at the expense of policy

I admire Chris because he refuses to be distracted. He’s not voting on which candidate he’d like to have dinner with, nor does he want them to date his children. He’s going to vote for the candidate who will govern in a manner which most aligns with his beliefs. 

We call this method of exercising judgement “cutting through the bulls---.” I strive to achieve this level of clarity with my own family. Last month, my son was discouraged by campaign coverage that sounded like “Real Housewives Of New Jersey.” He confessed to thinking about staying home on Election Day. Feeling a paternal obligation to provide some perspective, I said, “If you can’t vote for a president, at least vote for a Supreme Court.” 

After all, what is going to matter more to your children in 20 years: who is sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, or who was in the Miss Universe pageant?

Indecision is in fashion this year. 

The media is trotting out politicians and pundits who find both candidates vexing. Ex-presidential candidate Jeb Bush even finds honor in indecision, saying “Well, if everybody didn’t vote, that would be a pretty powerful political statement, wouldn’t it?” Mainstream media treat the choice for World’s Most Powerful Person as if we were choosing who we friend on Facebook.

Yet what would that statement say, exactly? That citizens should stay home when presented by hard choices? Just how does that ensure the free America for which our fathers fought? 

History does not favor those who sit on the sidelines when the game is on the line. On the contrary, we admire those with the ability to make tough choices. Among all earth’s creatures, humans are uniquely well-suited to make difficult decisions. We spend years equipping our children with the skills to make good decisions. In fact, it’s a requirement for a productive, happy life.

The media would like you to believe that not voting has now become the principled stance. If the world worked that way, we would have given Roberto Durán a medal for throwing up his hands and declaring, “No Más.”  

Pop Quiz, hotshot: 

Q. News coverage of which of the below subjects is unlike the others?
  1. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
  2. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
  3. Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston
  4. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

A. It’s a trick question: The national news media treat them all alike. 

Mainstream media treat the choice for World’s Most Powerful Person as if we were choosing who we friend on Facebook. It’s an insult to the voting-age public—a disrespect we return with historically low trust in media. We’ll make our decision based on substance, not slander, thank you. 

In truth, we care less about candidates’ tax returns, and more about their stances on raising taxes. We care less about their Twitter accounts, and more about our bank accounts. We care less about who opposed the war in Iraq, and more about who can end the war in Chicago. 

Gun owners, in particular, care less about government promises to keep us safe, and more about promises to keep us safe from government. We care less about candidates’ disrespect for each other, and more about their disrespect for us. We don’t care who sniffs at the debate; we care about who sniffs at our freedoms. 

We don’t duck hard decisions, either. Besides, for those who love freedom, this one’s not hard.


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