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What is the intrigue? And does media attention, even negative, work for a candidate? The presidential debate last week was the highest rated non sports telecast in cable television history with 24 million viewers. If you asked Donald Trump, he would tell you that his presence drew the large number of viewers. Ironically, he may be right and he did have the most talk time. So if people did tune in to see Trump, what were they looking to see? Maybe they appreciate his candor, political incorrectness, and ability to confront conflict with confidence. Or maybe they find his outlandish remarks and unpredictability entertaining, similar to reality TV. His vanity, lack of filter and insensitivity to others definitely alienate many voters. So what do people find appealing in his approach?
For starters, he speaks his mind directly and unabashedly. Even if you don’t like his position, most prefer politicians that don’t flip/flop and answer the questions directly without evading the inquiry. Of course, he can be found to engage in some of the above, but less is refreshing. The down side may be that his delivery obscures the message. While I am certainly not endorsing Donald Trump since I believe he has many shortcomings that would prevent him from being an effective president, he does raise issues worth discussing. Many politicians today appear to be focused more on themselves and less on the people they serve. The political fund-raising system also seems flawed since I believe that the biggest contributors often have the most influence on policy making and laws.
Unfortunately negative media gets the high ratings, but my hope is that people discuss, watch, read, and educate themselves about the various candidates so they make an informed decision when voting. Optimistically, I hope that the viewing numbers for the first debate signify a desire to seek knowledge and be more active in selecting the best candidate. We’re told to avoid discussing politics with others, but maybe that’s part of our problem. Why can’t we have a respectful and civil discussion with others and maybe learn some things. Sometimes we rely exclusively on the media and may benefit more from conversations with people who can be gracious and objective. Listen more, talk less, and learn from others.