In every election there is an ongoing process during which the candidates show us that they are human. They eat pizza, drink beer, kiss babies, tell us that their wives think they are stupid, joke around, and toss around bowling balls. True to political form Barack Obama went to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and attempted to convince us he was, in fact, human. It was an interview marked by self humanization and self deprecation. But is humanization in a country that glorifies meritocracy as much as democracy necessary? I contend that it is not, and that it merely aids delusion and hyperbole in politics.
We do not elect the ordinary. We do not elect ourselves. We elect “the best” and ”the best” are better than ordinary. The people that climb to the top of national politics are not ordinary, otherwise we would never have elevated them to that point in the first place. We elect and hope for the extraordinary, yet we oddly task these people with the job of convincing us that they are ordinary. We ask ourselves if we could picture having a beer with the president, but at the same time we want them to be better than the kind of guy that would have a beer with us.
Because of this mandatory humanization, politicians romanticize a normalized existence. When candidates act like us we like it and we relate to them.
The only place that going on The Daily Show, having a beer, or kissing a baby serves in politics is to lower the debate. Granted, The Daily Show is a media platform where presumably candidates could use it as a stage to articulate their agenda to an audience but that is not what it is used for. It is used to humanize the candidates. By romanticizing normalcy, the exceptional harm the actual normal people. The whole action makes us complacent with our own situation. What could affirm us more than exceptional people striving to act like us?
Humanization is a pointless hurdle in politics. We pretend it is necessary for politicians to be like us to understand us but that just isn't true. People understand cats, dogs, bacteria, buildings, and waterfalls and we are not like them at all. We do not have to equivocate to relate.