Ankita Chakraborty: Are presidential elections losing respect?

The Different Perspective

If you’ve watched the news or even glanced at trending topics recently, you would have noticed a headline along the lines of,“Kanye West declares he will be running for president in 2020.” This proclamation is usually accompanied by either comments of disbelief or the hashtag #Yeezy2020. To many this is a mere joke, they shrug and laugh it off. After all, Yeezus in the White House? Yeah, right.

While I was somewhat surprised at Waka Flocka Flame’s intent to run for president earlier this year, announced on April 20—or, more appropriately, 4/20—I kept in mind the date and his age of 28. Naturally he couldn’t be serious and it was humorous at the time. However, Kanye’s announcement didn’t even faze me nor did I think it to be funny or in good taste. Declaring that you intend to run for president is not a lighthearted way to rack up some public adulation and some laughs; it’s a commitment that shouldn’t be turned into a joke.

But more than being entertainment, these baseless announcements are impacting the way people view the presidency. It’s almost as if the elections are a competition between who can capture maximum media attention. Where is the attention to serious issues and candidates who have a real platform?

Let’s talk about Donald Trump for a minute. He has been pretty much hogging the media limelight for awhile due to his sensational statements and controversial stances. Trump comes from more of a celebrity background than a political one and that’s exactly why he’s not only garnering so much support from people who want an outsider, but also playing up his status. And while many people are biased against him due to his incendiary words, some are being skewed by Trump’s image in the media that purports him as gutsy and unapologetic. And that’s exactly the problem–media and potential voters are getting swept up into a celebrity frenzy rather than focusing on the politics.     

You may remember another name that was quite popular for awhile, making instant news: Deez Nuts. Quite a name to remember and also someone who caused quite a stir; Deez Nuts led the polls in North Carolina running as an Independent. The craziest part about this candidate isn’t even the name, it’s that Deez Nuts is actually a fifteen year old boy by the name of Brady Olson. Obviously, this candidate can neither run for president nor win. Yet somehow the people of North Carolina chose to vote for him over actual qualified candidates. What is it that people are basing their voting criteria on? How much media coverage a certain personality gets? Because the presidency requires someone who can effectively manage the entire country, not temporarily rile up news channels.

Now I am not saying we should treat the upcoming elections as sacrosanct, but I would like to see a little more coverage of the real issues to restore some significance to the process. There are plenty of Americans jaded by the reality-TV-like presentations of presidential candidates. They have a good reason to be. Lately due to a select few over the top “celebrities,” the elections have lost their legitimacy.

Ankita Chakraborty is a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in psychology