We live in a time when people like crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford can get elected (and sometimes re elected) to public office. We at the UltraViolet believe that politicians today act more like reality TV stars than public officials. Because of a few politicians who have made big mistakes while in office, it has become impossible to take anyone in the field of politics seriously.
The people we elect are supposed to instill confidence in our government. The current batch of elected officials, or at least the ones we hear about in the news, does not give us much confidence. The closest thing people our age get to political news is Jon Stewart’s three weeks of Rob Ford jokes and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression. That kind of coverage causes us to see politicians as jokes, and it encourages us to focus on politicians’ mistakes and personal shortcomings.
However, it is hard to say whether the exploits of today’s politicians occur because the current group is worse than those who came before, or because today’s society is scrutinizing politicians now more than ever. The American public is bloodthirsty for the mistakes and misfortunes of others.
The administrations of JFK and FDR were not without sex scandals or personal tragedies and misfortunes, but today’s never-ending news cycle has obliterated the privacy of politicians’ personal lives. This has forced the scandal-less politicians even farther into the background and brought the Anthony Weiners of the world into the limelight.
Have you ever wondered how networks like E!: Entertainment Television can have such high ratings and people like the Kardashians can become so famous? The world takes pleasure in laughing at the Kardashians knocking over tables and yelling at each other just like we enjoy watching our leaders make mistakes. America’s schadenfreude-esque love of reality television has taken its toll on politics.
Ford is not the first politician to do drugs, but today’s media has almost round-the-clock coverage of his crack-smoking scandal. By taking the oath of office, today’s politicians are essentially agreeing to have their personal lives constantly broadcast to the world. We need to either stop focusing on politician’s mistakes or elect people who will not have the same kinds of failures.