As far as I know, there’s no class here at UW that teaches students about current events or day-to-day politics in election cycles, and for good reason. The job of a professor is not to indoctrinate specific beliefs or views into their students, but rather give them the tools and skills to form their own opinions. However, when students are left with very little in terms of political socialization outside of what they’ve always grown up with in terms of mainstream media from broadcast channels, newspapers and social media, certain events and political figures are often overlooked in lieu of what is reported on the most.
Among other groups, this lack of coverage on fringe topics and issues hits one faction the hardest on the political scene: small time, non-establishment candidates or independents attempting to eke their way onto a major party’s political scene often find it an uphill battle to garner any kind of political traction. While candidates such as Donald Trump or Ben Carson have found quite a bit of star power in the Republican Party for their hardline stances against the “establishment,” why isn’t that popularity reflected in the Democratic Party?
Before this election cycle, the only talking heads I was familiar within the Democratic Party that were going to run for president in 2016 were Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. A few short months later, Biden’s not running, the Clinton campaign is sweating at the potential of debating a Democratic socialist from Vermont with Einstein hair in second and three others are taking the stage in the first Democratic Primary Debate. Where did all these candidates come from, and why has nobody heard of them?
The GOP has more than a dozen candidates that each bring their own relatively unique views and capability to put their shoe in their mouth to the table, and I bet you could name more of them than the Democratic hopefuls. The media has all but been silent on Misters Chafee, Webb, and O’Malley, while Sen. Bernie Sanders has crept up into second behind Clinton. There’s a bevy of other candidates that have filed with the FEC, but why haven’t they received the attention or notoriety of taking the position of the Democratic “dark horse candidates” like Sen. Sanders, or the establishment candidate embodied in Clinton?
All these Democratic candidates have similar skillsets to their Republican equivalents, yet why aren’t they nearly as popular? Larry Lessig is a professor of law at Harvard (that I’d equate to a position of authority in a field such as Carson’s position as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital), Chafee and O’Malley were governors (like Bush, Jindal, Huckabee, Pataki and Christie) and Sanders and Clinton did their time in the Senate (comparable to Cruz, Graham, Paul, Rubio and Santorum). So why, with their similar groups of talents and qualifications do the Democratic candidates receive less attention from the media?
I can’t give you a straight answer. As of this writing, the Democratic debate has yet to begin, and I expect that to begin to level the uneven playing field that has been created by the media. This will let people know who these unknown candidates are, their positions on the issues and why they’d be a better fit than Clinton or Sanders. I’m excited to tune in and learn how these hopefuls hold up under the magnifying glass of the thousands tuning in, and hope it reverses the widening media gap between who the media chooses to report on and who it should be reporting on.
Sergey is a sophomore majoring in international studies and is one of the current co-editors for The Daily Cardinal opinion page. What do you think of his views? Do you agree with the thought that Democratic candidates recieve uneven media coverage? Do you disagree with his views on this issue? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.