One of the more inspiring storylines to this year’s election cycle was the large number of people who went to the polls. And one of the driving forces behind that was the large amount of non-news channel coverage of the election.
“The View,” “Oprah,” and “Saturday Night Live” were just some of the shows that had made the election and its stars a large part of their programming over the recent months. This election was not only historic in its production of the first African-American victory for the White House, the first Republican candidate for Vice-President who was a woman, and the dramatic turnout that changed the electoral map and political landscape of the nation. It was also historic from a pop culture point of view.
Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton showed up on more talk shows, comedy shows and other kinds of non-news shows than any other group of major party candidates ever. You’d have to go back to Ross Perot to find the time when anyone other than the top of the major party tickets warranted so much attention, and there was no precedent for the amount of exposure they all got.
And, there were new venues. Saddleback Church’s civil forum, hosted by Pastor Rick Warren, was a first of its kind and generated better reviews than either o the candidates that night. The Town Hall format produced a new kind of debate (although we would have liked to have seen more of them). Overall, it was great! It was fun! It was how it should be. The only thing we missed was the Almost-First-Husband debating Almost-Second-Husband (Mr. Clinton vs. Mr. Palin).
So now what?
Here’s the first vote for more of the same. It would be great if the candidates didn’t retreat into their Washington lives so much that they can’t stay fun, stay relevant and stay connected to the public through shows more exciting than “Meet the Press” or a spot on either Wolf or Sean’s show, depending on their preference.
I’d like to see Hilary on “SNL” six months from now. Barack should host a few months later. And then McCain. Mrs. Palin should show up on “The View,” as well as Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” in a return gesture. The same goes for Mr. Biden and some Senators and Cabinet members.
Overall, it’d be nice to see that our leaders can connect with our culture even when there’s not a campaign going on. Or, better, it’d be great if they’d campaign for their ideas as strong while they’re in office as they do when they’re running for it, and to give us a glimpse into their process would be a bonus. That would be the kind of authenticity, transparency and effort that I’d find inspiring.