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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Poli( ticks ) me off: circus, chess and cheez whiz

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Grace Altenhofen | EIC

“Ma’am, you can’t bring that sign in,” I said to the woman wearing all red and carrying a Zach Nunn For Congress sign. 

“They’re doing it too,” she scoffed, referring to the people wearing blue and sporting Cindy Axne For Congress shirts. She walked right past me into the auditorium where Republican (and Drake alum) Zach Nunn and Democrat Cindy Axne were soon to start their debate. 

I was asked by the SJMC to help out at this political debate at the State Historical Building, where the congressional seat to represent Iowa’s third district was up for grabs. For the most part, I was just standing outside the entrance to the auditorium and telling patrons where to sit (in essence, lots of “Good evening, sirs” and “How are you, ma’ams?”). 

Before the debate, there were very specific rules that were laid out by the hosts; the audience could only cheer at the beginning and end, there were to be no political shirts of any kind and no American flags or signs. 

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When I watched the actual debate, I was fascinated not only by the banter and dynamic between the two candidates on stage, but also by the reactions of audience members. Though there were very few audible reactions due to the rules, I could see people nodding or shaking their heads, some moving their hands in disbelief at responses and the occasional murmur (particularly, when Zach Nunn slipped and said “City of Iowa” instead of “State of Iowa”). 

Though the political aspect of it all interested me, what stood out the most was how the spectators at this debate were no different from the fans you’d see at a basketball or football game. They were wildly devoted, willing to do anything to show support and treating the debate as if the championship was on the line. Some of them were willing to break the rules to support their candidate, as evidenced by the woman who walked right past me when I told her she couldn’t bring her sign in (which was later confiscated by the producer of the debate). Though there were not any scuffles or verbal arguments between the two sides of the aisles, I could feel a bit of tension in the air. 

My question overall is, should politics excite us like sports games do? 

I’ve often wondered this because throughout my years, I’ve seen people going to rallies on both sides of the aisles and they look indistinguishable from rowdy fans in a stadium. I’ve seen fist fights between supporters of opposite sides just like I may see Yankees and Red Sox fans brawl outside of the stadium after a tight game. 

But politics are intrinsically a pivotal and exclusionary practice. They determine if wars occur, what receives funding if towns and businesses can thrive and so many more things that exist in the daily lives of citizens around the world. It frankly amazes me how politics are treated like a sport – at least outwardly – when they literally determine if someone lives or dies in some cases. 

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be passionate about politics or you shouldn’t be proud of the candidate you voted for because you believe they are the best for the job, but I frankly find it ridiculous that people look at politicians as if they’re star athletes or celebrities. At the end of the day, they’re people making critical decisions that could either help or harm you – in which case, I would much rather politics be boring and dull than the circus (or should I say, football game) we see on the news every day.

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