“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life” according to a quote by Oscar Wilde, and as an artist I think of all the wonderful ways that could play out – images of beauty, stories of peaceful co-existence, fantastical films depicting awe-inspiring new worlds, songs of shared love. But sadly we Americans don’t seem to latch on to the glorious with quite the same vigor with which we adopt the puerile and even grotesque.
Case in point – today is #SuperTuesday 2016 when an unfathomably small percentage of eligible voters in 10 ten states put forth the next best hope for our country’s leadership. And before everyone starts squawking about record turnout, do we want to talk about what record turnout means? According to the BiPartisan Policy Center, the 2012 primaries reported a turnout of 17.3 percent of eligible citizens. (They then reported that 93 million eligible citizens blew off the 2012 General Election. That means voting came from only 57.5% of those eligible in the General Election.) So if we get up to 25 or even 30 percent turnout for the primary – should we really be popping champagne corks? And, most importantly, what did it take to get here?
The record breaking voter turnout is happening BECAUSE the politicians out Kardashian-ed the Kardashians with reality tv style dramas and mud slinging, name calling, lies, and punches and chokeholds to generate ratings and public interest. Candidates have evolved into the same caricatures we see on The Bachelor: The Idealistic one, the Evil one, the Dumb one, the Sleaze who’s willing to put out/sell out to achieve a win. This says so much about our normalization and acceptance of precisely crafted pseudo-reality tv. There’s actually a reality tv star topping out the nominations. How blurred are we making that line between art and life. This is what it takes to get people passionate about voting.
And is it politics or “Dancing with the Stars” where all those fading celebrity-tainers desperately grasp at one more chance to be relevant, this time by endorsing leaving the country if this one or that one gets elected. Really?! – the minute we might actually need everyone in the country with a desire to fight against a badly chosen president and you split. Guess you’re only here for the good times. That’s about the least patriotic thing I can think of. Grow a pair, stick out the uncomfortable times and work to make this country better.
Finally the behind the scenes manipulations to strengthen alliances on the aptly titled “Survivor”- those tactics keep showing up on flyers at my door, on Facebook, even in the incessant emails and calls. “I’m just trying to help you; so let me tell you how it really is…This candidate can’t win, so vote for your second choice and be on the winning team”. Or “a vote for this less viable candidate equates to a vote for the worst candidate, so vote for this candidate instead, because that way it counts the way you want it to, and we can boot that other guy/gal off the island.” Don’t believe it. Vote your conscience – but get the hell out there and vote.