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Sunday, March 02, 2008

How important is seeing a candidate (or a rock band) live?

With thanks to Dan et al. for the repeat invite, I plan to spend my Prawfs time talking about politics (though I likely won't be able to completely leave out my blog love for Sentencing Law & Policy or Law School Innovation).   Because I am in Ohio — and because I am teaching for the first time this semester a novel Legislation course — I have few professional or personal moments these days without political dimensions.  Indeed, both my work e-mail and my home answering machine have been filled with political messages nearly every day over the last two weeks.

Because the 2008 campaign is fascinating, I am not complaining about all the politicking.  Joyfully, most candidate ads on TV these days are more uplifting then scary; I am actually eager to have my kids see the ads during breaks in American Idol.  And I am having a lot of fun deconstructing the candidate's efforts to present themselves in a certain light.  (Consider, for example, this long video on John McCain's website; it seems like it was produced by the History Channel because 95% of the video is focused on events that are more than 35 years old.)

Today, remarkably, I have the chance to see both of the Democratic candidates live in town hall events at nearby local high schools.  Though I already know how I am going to vote on March 4, I am still eager to see both candidates in action (especially because traditional media do not cover town-hall Q&As as effectively as debates and stump speeches).  Still, however the candidates perform, I deeply doubt that anything I see or hear — either good or bad — will change my vote or views.

So, I am asking myself, why am I going?  One reason is to experience the moment: I want to see who else attends and watch others respond to the candidates.  Another reason, I think, is to be able to tell friends and colleagues that I was there.  In the end, I have concluded that seeing a national candidate live is a lot like going to see rock bands live — though their recorded music always sounds better, the live experience is more multi-dimensional and more memorable. 

Posted by Douglas A. Berman on March 2, 2008 at 09:42 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink


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If the rock bands you go see do not sound better live I think you are going to see the wrong rock bands. I bet the same can be said of candidates.

Posted by: music snob | Mar 4, 2008 11:35:45 AM

In New Hampshire, where voters are inundated with campaigners every four years, facetime with the candidates is crucial to a candidate's success. It's more than a memorable experience; the number and quality of personal appearances can make or break a campaign. New Hampshire is the exception, though.

Posted by: rs | Mar 3, 2008 5:20:53 PM

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