Election aftermath: Making sense of it all

Darren D'Altorio

Activism colored the city of Kent this election season, especially during the final week leading up to the big day. To witness it was impressive and exhausting.

Well, that day is over – finally. The ballots are counted. History has been made.

Noble efforts to encourage awareness at the grassroots level exist as fading sidewalk chalk drawings littered throughout Kent State’s campus: “Yes we can.” “Hope.”

Now, we are submerged in the aftermath of the election.

As a nation, we must reflect on what the candidates respective campaigns have taught us.

What have we learned about America throughout this election spectacle?

First, news networks love the sports show display format.

Watching ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FOX throughout the election coverage was like watching the Sports Center of politics. Crazy graphics at the bottom of the screen resembled the on-screen scoreboards of Sunday football games. As electoral votes accumulated for each candidate, they flashed by like the newest statistics from sporting events around the country.

Thankfully the news folks finally caught on to this presentation format. Maybe it will evolve into an online fantasy politics league where participants can draft a president, Senate and House and live out their own political wet dream, keeping track of all the stats and facts to accumulate approval rating points. The marriage of the sports broadcast format and the news format could be one of the greatest innovations of our time.

Second, news networks love “Star Trek.”

On the evening of the election, CNN did something magical, Disney World-worthy, crap-your-pants exciting. They had singer/songwriter/producer/performer Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas in studio. Wait, here’s the catch: He was via hologram. Will.I.Am via hologram – that has a nice ring. He was standing in the CNN playground of a newsroom, chatting it up with Anderson Cooper like they were there together. This was some beam-me-up stuff. Will.I.Am materialized on the screen and started talking to Cooper in a candid manner. Brilliant innovations here people, simply brilliant.

Third, Sarah Palin is a marketable lady.

That Alaskan chick should throw in the towel as governor and join the “Price Is Right” crew of beauties. She should start her own home shopping network. She should start her own glasses line. She should have her own late night talk show. Rumor has it a porno is floating around in cyber space: “Palin meets Joe the Plumber.” She should copyright her name in the porno industry and collect royalties for every time some porn star pulls her hair back, puts on a pair of glasses, dresses like a Talbot’s clothing store advertisement and goes to work under the disguise of Palin. She could be as rich as Oprah before she knows it and won’t have to have the RNC buy her clothes anymore.

Fourth, Andy Warhol was the smartest person of the modern era.

The ideologies and artistic style of Warhol emerged as effective campaign strategies in this election. McCain became victim to Warhol’s prophecies. Joe the Plumber became a household name, giving an identity to an American nobody and the stereotype he embodies. There’s the 15 minutes of fame. The 15 minutes of fame also took shape in the use of the Internet by both candidates.

Blogs, Twitters, iReports. These tools gave voices to all Americans who chose to participate in them, making normally unheard beliefs and opinions valuable in the grand scheme of political campaigning. Obama’s campaign utilized the artistic style of Warhol, mass producing posters, CDs, T-shirts, buttons and commercials. Obama wasn’t just a candidate. He became a brand, a commodity in this election. And the public bought him up like Tickle Me Elmo. This is the first time in history a presidential candidate became a pop-culture icon. Warhol is patting himself on the back in his grave.

Fifth, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are screwed.

The rampant success of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” was made possible by the political punching bag known as George W. Bush and the three-ring circus known as his presidency. Every night, Stewart and Colbert had an easy target to exploit, inducing laughter to the masses and high ratings for their shows.

With Obama as the president-elect, their format could be reduced to shambles. Obama wants to do good things for the country, unite the people and the political parties, create jobs and hope in America and re-establish America as a global superpower and ally to all the nations of the world. Those goals cannot be bullet pointed and made fun of, especially when a definite majority of the country is rallied around them. Everyone hated ‘Dubbya,’ so it was all good to ridicule and satirize him. With Obama, that’s not really the case.

Finally, we can learn that this time in history will be remembered forever, not washed away like the sidewalk chalk around campus. It’s been a rough new millennium for a lot of people from all walks of life. But America keeps ticking, and people keep fighting for what they believe is right in every way they can.

Good stuff.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].