Flatlander: Popularity an election plus | VailDaily.com

Flatlander: Popularity an election plus

Austin Richardson
Vail CO, Colorado

Sitting on the editorial board at the newspaper is interesting. High-falutin” wannabe intellectuals firing barbed questions at candidates should be loads of fun. Well, it is fun. But for all the editorializing in the paper, the editorial board doesn’t always see the big picture. An editorial board might choose to endorse a candidate for any number of reasons, but not necessarily for the same reasons voters vote the way they do.

We’d all like to think that lots of brain power goes into electing our officials. That’s really not the case. Unfortunately, our society is coming to a point where the opinions of newspapers editors is becoming less and less important. In my mind, this stems from a general lack of reading and honest effort in thinking about the issues and how elected officials may affect their own lives.

Colleges have become more about profit than about learning. These days, colleges churn out workers, much like the trade schools of yore. It’s been my experience that political leanings are developed in college or on the job. The popular phrase for liberal arts graduates is, “you want fries with that?” holds true in the real world as well. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met mop floors, mow lawns and work at video stores. They rarely vote, either.

Not many political candidates out there are dummies. They wouldn’t be where they are, no matter how well connected or privileged their upbringing may have been, if they weren’t somewhat intelligent. Be careful judging intelligence, it’s not always how well someone does on standardized tests.

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter how many advanced degrees a candidate holds, how “deep, down intelligent” they are or any of that stuff. It’s how well-known they are. Elections are glorified popularity contests. Period.

And how well known someone is boils down to popularity. Sorry folks, voting for someone has very little to do with “where they stand on the issues” like everyone says. What matters most is with whom that voter feels most comfortable. That comfort comes from a nice smile, the tone of their voice, how they dress, their physical appearance and how they “come off” to potential constituents.

As appalling as that seems, it’s the truth. Who would you rather represent you: a charismatic smiler of average intelligence or a brainiac who can’t get along?

Web Editor Austin Richardson is a member of the Daily’s Editorial Board. He can be reached at 748-2911 or arichardson@vaildaily.com.

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