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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Oversimplifying candidates reduces political validity

During my nightly “West Wing” double feature ritual the other week, a line from one
of Aaron Sorkin’s characters struck me as particularly interesting.

Ainsley Hayes, the
smart and conveniently good-looking Republican that is brought to work as at the
legal office of the West Wing by the fictional Bartlett administration, countered the
very progressive, liberal Democratic president by saying, “This White House that feels that government is better for children than parents are.
That looks at 40 years of degrading and humiliating free lunches handed out in a
spectacularly failed effort to level the playing field and says, ‘Let’s try 40 more.’
This White House that says of anyone that points that out to them, that they are cold
and mean and racist, and then accuses Republicans of using the politics of fear. This
White House that loves the Bill of Rights, all of them – except the second one.”

Being the sucker for liberal dogma that I am, I disagree wholeheartedly with the
notions Hayes put forth. But hearing those accusations against many policies I
believe in allowed for me to see my own thoughts on politics from a Republican eye.
And it did not sound so different from what I say the other way around.


I have often found myself thinking thoughts like, “Wow, Paul Ryan is an evil
genius,” “Scott Walker is a backwards fundamentalist,” “Republicans are pawns
of corrupt corporations,” etc. But in the same stroke, I am appalled by the equally
ridiculous attack advertisements that accuse President Barack Obama of being an evil
socialist and the harbinger of imminent financial doom.

Politics, especially in our age of rapid media consumption, is all about presenting
digestible stories to voters. Painting a picture of someone as the “bad guy” is the
oldest trick in the book, and it is used so ubiquitously because it works. But it also
reduces the facts and theories of candidates to good and evil, with no room for
middle ground.

With recall elections drawing near and the presidential election cycle approaching
full speed, these caricatures of candidates and ideologies are going to reach
deafening levels on the airwaves. What is lost in the over-simplification of candidates
is the validity of both sides.

Although I may not agree with hardline laissez-faire economics and money as free
speech, I am willing to accept that the politicians and policy makers who support
these ideals are not mentally unsound or uneducated. I would like to mention here an
earnest effort not to mention Gov. Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree.

Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and all other shades of the political
spectrum that I disagree with are, for the most part, basing their initiatives on truth. The same goes for Democrats and liberals and every other strain of wishy-washy, hemp-wearing hippies the naysayers claim are determined to shred every
aspect of the American way of life.

The elections in the upcoming months are going to determine the direction of this
nation, and fundamental shifts in policy, right and left, are going to be made. I have
to remind myself when coming to my own conclusions on these policies not to
fall victim to the simple-minded voter the system would have me believe myself to

Politics can sometimes feel like a TV show, but the effects of voting as if it were one will
have consequences that will not fit into the easily digestible story of “good versus evil”
that politicians and pundits will try to feed you for dinner.

Meher Ahmad ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in international studies and Middle Eastern studies.

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