So how does it feel to have a celebrity for a President? Obama certainly is one, and his charisma definitely doesn't hurt, but it's the media that creates a celebrity, and they've done a tremendous job.
Obama, occasionally with members of his family, has graced more than just the covers of Time and Newsweek, but also People, Us Weekly, Life & Style, OK!, the Star, The Atlantic, Vibe, GQ, Ebony, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Wired, Men's Vogue and Rolling Stone.
Jeez, even Reagan wasn't as big a star and he was a star; an actor for most his life. I understand that Obama and the beginning of his term are inarguably news, but I'm curious how things might have turned out were he not so popular; don't cry, it's all hypothetical. To do that, you have to realize when his celebrity started. It was his famous speech, now achieving somewhat legendary status, at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
After that speech it was clear what a rising star he was, but what if he had not gotten that initial exposure? What if Obama had run as an Independent or what if Hilary had? Surely, those evil Republicans would have their man in office!
Many of his views are attractive to independent voters, especially the desire he expressed to change the status quo. Sure, Obama's ideas could translate well into other parties.
However, without the support from a major political party, could Obama have ever risen to the top? The likely answer is no.
These days, candidates need to be groomed from the local level up, and ultimately approved by the party. We've let the Republican and Democratic parties convince us that they're not only necessary, but representative of all Americans. We've allowed these two groups of people, already in power, to limit our choices for president to the people they deem worthy. It's true that primaries give people a voice, but even then New Hampshire and Iowa hold the first and most powerful opinions, and everyone else just seems to follow.
Could someone like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln be elected in today's system? I doubt they could even get a nomination. Washington, as a matter of principle, was not a member of any political party. In fact, he wisely was opposed to the creation of political parties because of a fear that the conflicts between them would cause stagnation and that they would serve only to pit different groups of citizens against each other. If only he, one of our country's greatest leaders, could see us today, he would observe with a heavy heart how right he was. The red states and the blue states are representative of this problem — a problem and a rivalry that is difficult for me to understand.
I'm a registered Independent, as are another unfortunate 898,000 voters in Arizona; we are unfortunate because in Arizona, as in 17 other states, independent voters cannot vote in primary elections or caucuses. Verily, nearly 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as Independents, and that number is even greater among college students, a demographic that could carry a candidate to victory.
Not that I believe that 40 percent of Americans don't favor one party over the other when it comes down to voting. A large number of Independents, I would venture, do hold loyalty to one party more than the other, just as I imagine there are some registered Republicans and Democrats who have no qualms about voting for the opposing party's candidate.
Some of these people registered for one party or the other simply for the benefit of being able to vote in the primary elections. Even I align myself with the Libertarian Party on most issues, one of the four recognized political parties in Arizona along with the Republicans, Democrats and Greens. The fact is that the two main political parties and their beliefs don't suit most people 100 percent. I was salivating at the Afghanistan election and the 40 plus candidates they had to choose from!
Should qualified candidates from other parties have an equal opportunity to be president? Sure. Does the Electoral College make any sense in the 21st century? Not really. Does America need campaign reform in one way or another? Yes.
Can we change the system for the better? Absolutely.
This is not a theocracy. These people don't have divine guidance. We need to get away from the plutocracy, the rule of the wealthy, and embrace our democracy by learning about candidates and their policies and by always voting. Eventually, if we continually replace terrible politicians with better leaders (or at least not-so-terrible politicians), then eventually our government will get the message: Change! You cannot change the problems of this country without changing the political system and you can't change the political system without changing the rules. The sad truth, however, is that to change the rules you'll have to drag the current hierarchy, including the politicians elected to represent you, kicking and screaming.
— Chris Ward is an English major. He can be reached at email@example.com