How the US primaries became a popularity contest
In about 36 hours, Super Tuesday will be over in the US and the majority of delegates will have made their choice to back someone in the Democratic and Republican campaigns. So far, the Republican front-runner is Donald Trump / Donald Drumpf, and the Democratic lead remains Hillary Clinton.
On the side of the democrats, there have been some detailed policy and sound ideas that have attracted the public. The US, while being split along party lines, is even delineating itself within the parties. Sanders voters have insisted that they would not vote for Hillary if he did not receive the nomination, essentially ready to sabotage themselves. Clinton's most fervent supporters are reacting in the same manner.
Articles such as these have been regularly seen on sites such as Huffington Post
On the Republican side, however, there has been very little policy discussed. Instead, it's candidates attacking each other in a war of words, throwing insults and making rants. The sideshow that usually follows the presidential elections (gaffes, dramatics, insults, attack commercials) has become the main show.
Donald Trump has proclaimed before that if he doesn't win the nomination for the Republican party, he will run as an Independent instead and tear the party in two. If you've been reading any stateside papers, the daily reports are more of the drama that follows the US elections than campaign promises. And even the campaign promises have been dramatised.
How did this happen?
1. Television dramatics.
Not all television is bad, of course. But the over-sensationalism and dramatising of both news and programming has allowed candidates to turn what's one of the most important decisions they make every four years into an entertainment program. One where candidates big themselves up, make snide remarks at opponents and proclaim themself to be the best. Reason isn't exhilarating; over-the-top claims are so much better. Reality television has distorted our view of what reality should be.
The violence of November 13, 2015 serves to remind us of the chaos in the world today
2. An extreme world.
It doesn't help that the world seems mighty chaotic right now, from the natural to the unnatural. Extreme weather, an unstable economy and religious violence are spinning the United States out of rational thinking. In extreme times, people look towards a protective state out of instinct, and demagougery becomes commonplace. They frequently venture towards the extreme left or right, the extreme left being the highly socialist Sanders and the extreme right being Trump.
Just FYI, this is Fox News
3. The media.
It's no surprise that the media are giving Trump plenty of free airtime (as are we). After all, his dramatics appeal to a popular base. His name is well-known, and our love of celebrity attention makes him an instant hit, whether you like him or not. As such, Trump's antics are highlighted, while the placidity of his opponents in both Democratic and Republican circles are muted down. We've turned the campaigns into popularity contests. (Although John Oliver does decimate Trump's credibility if you've seen last Sunday's Last Week Tonight.)
Is it a worrying trend? Very much so. Will it change? We certainly hope it does. A scientist has predicted that if Trump wins Super Tuesday, he will likely be the Republican nominee, and if so, he will likely be president of the United States. Let's hope it's not as accurate as Paul the octopus.