The Center for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society

Pick Your Fittest Candidate

In Politics on September 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

By: Mandy Shaver

Pick a candidate.

Candidate A- Associates with crooked politicians and consults astrologists.  He’s had two mistresses.  He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B – He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college, and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C – He is a decorated war hero.  He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer, and never cheated on his wife.

Which of these candidates would be your choice?

Candidate A: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Candidate B: Winston Churchill

Candidate C: Adolph Hitler

Alright…you may argue that limited lifestyle habit information, little historical data to base these claims, and no mention of a candidate’s platform; this is not a fair hypothetical question.  But for a non-hypothetical question, how do edible voters in the United States perceive a candidate’s and running mate’s morality based upon his lifestyle?

Republican Willard Mitt Romney: He abstains from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.  He ties his dog to the roof of his car especially when his adult sons travel with him on the campaign trail.  He runs almost every morning and made the People magazine’s list as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” in 2002.

And his Vice Presidential pick Paul Ryan does P90X every day and is a self-proclaimed fitness junkie.  He’s a fan of the Green Bay packers and Rage Against the Machine although the band is none too fond of him.  He recently went to confession for lying that he ran a marathon under three hours.

Democratic President Barack Obama: He was born off the shores of the continental United States in distant Hawaii. His father left when he was an infant.  In youth, he began smoking.  He recently quit smoking and regularly plays basketball although he still eats large hamburgers.

And his Vice President Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden was not able to serve in the Vietnam War because of asthma.  Though now he weight trains though.  He abstains from drinking alcohol.  He lied that he graduated in the top half of his class when in fact he was 76th of 85 students in law school.

So I understand Paul Ryan is taking heat about his marathon running time.  And President Barack Obama is getting credit for quitting smoking.  Of course a healthy President models for Americans a choice to eat nutritious foods and engage in an active lifestyle.   But should the 2013 President’s physical fitness level be a substantial factor in whether or not he is sworn into office.  Should our next President of the United States be chosen because he is buff, smiles at babies, has a perfect smile, and never cheats on his wife?  Or should we actually look at the issues confronting our democratic system and our position in the global political-economic stage.

An athletic body sells candidates to the public during voting season.  Just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger.   He became Governor of California and largely part because of his amazing success as a body builder and later physical presence on the movie screen.  I remember the campaign during my final years of high school.  The first statement any student said about Schwarzenegger referred to his talent as a body builder or acting career.  And I wondered then as I do now were my previous fellow students’ statements about Schwarzenegger a mirror of their parents’ first observed utterances of his campaign.  What does it take for Americans to look beyond the physical appearances, religious background, ethnic identification, and daily habits of a political candidate in order to vote with a critical mind and social awareness?   Pro-thought voting is possible, even in this time of instant media gratification, once American voters stop perceiving candidates as health gurus or sport failures and instead vote because of a platform’s stance on an issue and not their nominee’s choice of a fitness regimen.  Thoughtful voting is possible once we stop treating the voting process like our fantasy football pick.

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