Professor (David) Amor dumbfounded the class this week with the following statement: “Everything we know or think we know about the candidates we know from the media.”
Not one member of our class has met either Mitt Romney or Barrack Obama in person, yet these names hold such meaning to each of us. I have been fortunate enough to meet Vice President Joe Biden, but even meeting a candidate once isn’t enough time to fully understand all their positions and views.
It is from this mediated knowledge that the political imaginary is built.
While the world of politics has a familiar structure that we take for granted, we must remember that everything we read or view has at least been edited to some degree. This is one of the key reasons so many viewers tune in to watch the presidential debates.
Although presidential debates are also edited and biased with regard to the network one chooses to view it on, they are the closest to truth we can reach on a national level.
Even this “truth” carries a fictional story used to motivate voters. In 2008, Obama’s story was “yes we can.” This story doesn’t fit anymore with the 2012 election.
Earlier this October, John Oliver of The Daily Show made fun of Obama’s new story — “Yes we can, but….”
Obama still hasn’t found a good story, but rather has a case or argument this time around. The best story he has is about Mitt Romney. Essentially, Obama’s story is that he is the better of the two options.
At this point of the election it is probably too late to develop a more streamlined message, but with a story of “Hey, at least I’m not him,” the President isn’t doing so bad after all.