By Keosha Johnson
Nov. 29, 2007
With shows like Dancing with the Stars and Desperate Housewives bringing in more viewers than most presidential debates, it makes you wonder why the media and the presidential candidates even bother having so many of them in the first place. After all, how many times can one defend his or her previous stance on going to war in Iraq? How many sound bites can we get of GOP candidates bashing Sen. Hillary Clinton? And how many more debates will it take to realize that with all the money spent on them, voters aren’t watching?
Granted, I will say the innovativeness of incorporating YouTube into the political realm was genius. But it’s been several months since the campaigning has begun, and I still don’t know whom, or even what party, I’m voting for to head this country for the next four years. What I do know is that there have to be better ways for both the media and the campaign strategists to reach Jane in Kansas and Ayesha in Florida. I’ve come up with a couple of suggestions to campaigners everywhere on how to make the presidential election matter to everyone, instead of just the media elite (or, whoever is lucky enough to live in Iowa or New Hampshire).
Who are you? No, really?
I want to know how each candidate acts under pressure behind closed doors just as much as I want to know his or her view on global warming. I’d also like to get some references on some of the candidates—being president is a job after all, and I, one of millions of employers that comprise the company we call the U.S. would like to know what people have to say about this person before he or she enters the Oval Office.
So instead of the same old debates, how about giving Americans a glimpse into the life and times of these presidential hopefuls? I suggest creating a reality show or mini-documentary that follows each candidate for a week. Because, when I consider who I want to be the next president, I’d like to know who the real person is, aside from all of the campaign rhetoric.
Walk in my shoes
The best way to know the voter is to understand each voter’s life. It’s important for the presidential candidates, many of them Ivy Leaguers, to understand what voters need. So why not walk a day in our shoes? Enter a labor union: the Service Employers International Union offers politicians from every level a chance to spend the day with a person at work through the union’s Walk a Day in My Shoe’s campaign.
Senators Clinton, Edwards and Obama are some of the presidential candidates that have participated in this program. Sen. Clinton spent the day as a nurse, Sen. Edwards learned what it’s like to work in a nursing home and Sen. Obama was a homecare worker. Campaign events like these bring the candidates closer to constituents and the issues they are concerned about.
How about spending the day as a graduate journalism student?