The Harbinger Online

Politics Over Personality

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editorial cartoon by River Hennick

As campaigns for the 2018 elections end and campaigns for both presidential and congressional elections in 2020 begin, new politicians are working their way into the public eye.

Seasoned congresswoman Elizabeth Warren awkwardly gets a beer in her kitchen as she informally announces that she is running for president on Instagram Live. Meanwhile, up-and-coming politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is uploading a video to Instagram of herself being lovingly attacked by a dog while on a call in the streets of the Bronx.

These attempts, whether staged or unstaged, are to appeal to voters and hopefully sway more people to their cause with every post. More than ever, they are working to display their best and trendiest selves to the world — whether that’s who they are, or not.

But for those of us who will be voting in the 2020 or 2022 elections, authenticity is everything. Politics are loaded with fake smiles and fake agendas, but fake online personas? That’s ridiculous. It’s time for politicians to be unapologetically themselves.

When going viral on Twitter for being “woke” is more important than their actual policies, politicians are doing everything they can to increase votes by boosting their image. From there, actual policies and personalities are blown out of proportion all too often, like with the current presidency relying on red MAGA hats and chants to build a wall.

Just because younger generations are speaking up and fostering change does not mean that politicians need to twist and turn their reputation in order to increase popularity. Being honest about their pasts and being true to their personalities is essential.

The authenticity factor of politicians is being lost in the fray of carefully-planned social media posts and videos to humanize politicians so they seem relatable to “real people,” but not always displaying their truest selves.

These people are real people. Some of them are married or have kids or a distinct cultural background and that is okay. What is not okay is the politicians who strategically mold their image to curry favor with a target group when their policies may not even help that group.

More than just in their social media presences, politicians need to be authentic in what they are supporting. Half-hearted efforts or back-and-forth mindsets on policies between tweets won’t help any of their constituents, or the country, when the president changes his mind in 2.5 hours. We need people to be honest and be proud of who they are and what they believe in. With their true beliefs established, the policies they support will more likely be supported by their followers because they know their elected leader is true to themselves.

By no means should a vote be based upon a candidate’s personality alone — there are political policies to take into account — but a vote should, and can, be won by an honest campaign, like with Ocasio-Cortez who, as of her election as representative, ran her own personal Instagram.

Elizabeth Warren, political policies aside, has tried to be young and hip. She posts videos of herself in her home trying to be casual and saying “I’m gonna get me a beer,” but there is no doubt a cloud of awkwardness as she speaks what her advisors clearly told her to say.

As a generation accustomed to Instagram and Twitter, we follow celebrities and politicians alike, and we can usually spot the fakeness radiating off a statement. But the situation becomes dangerous when we or millenials buy into the personas built on social media.

Disregarding policies, Trump has undeniably become more of an image and celebrity as opposed to an actual politician. During the recent government shutdown, the headlines were covered with Trump-related articles and his Twitter was filled with “Build the Wall” propaganda, but the actual policies he was suggesting? Those were swept aside in the landslide of other tweets.

A decent amount of President Trump’s tweets are hateful towards others or backlash for what other people have said about him. What we need to hear and see is him interacting with others at public appearances besides Trump rallies and his decisive ideas on policies.

By actively trying to mold their public image into something they may not be, politicians unfairly sway the votes. And how does this affect us? When it is our turn to vote, our turn to have our voice heard in a presidential or congressional election, there will be nothing more disappointing than electing a candidate and realizing our representation is not truly who they say they are.

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