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Elections And Popular Culture: A Perspective on Voter Behavior

           Elections are one of the most crucial methods of exercising the rights by a citizen of the country. Thus, this shall be taken seriously by voting for the leaders who can uphold the duties of the position they are running for. Nonetheless, the contemporary age conveys different ways to promote and campaign that could lead to a change of viewpoint from the voting masses. Popular culture includes any product, means, and others that are available to the masses. This could be shirts, merchandise, necessities, and even the use of media for memes, trending topics, movies, songs, etc. Elections can be considered as means for the citizens of a country to use their rights of suffrage to elect leaders who are not only capable to assume the roles and responsibilities of the position but also has the passion and character to cater to the issues and concerns of the public. With that, the utilization of the media contributes to the shift of the political stand of every individual and should be taken seriously. The possibility of voters choosing leaders who have a better campaign structure can prove to be unfair to the rest of the candidates. Other than that, it inquires whether the elected officials won due to their capability of pursuing the position or their popularity among the public.

           New media allows a change of patterns and formats in the political aspects that shift from traditional to modern processes.  Hossain (2008) interpreted Chua Beng’s perspective on the political aspect of the elections. He voiced that these campaigns are not only a way to provide information about the candidates who are running for a position but rather they symbolize hope for a better future. However, as a means to promote their candidates, the campaign teams or volunteers supporting a certain political candidate would organize effective actions to certify that the target audiences will remember the said candidate. Moreover, the danger of this shall be the creation of a false narrative to satisfy the audience’s preferred values through the depiction of the principles of a political leader, which is untrue and illustrates a hegemonic electoral.  Hossain (2008) continued the discussion by highlighting the role of media to promote or improve the structure of the campaign by discovering the culture of the society and implementing suitable campaign techniques. For instance, the Philippine candidate, Aguilar, drew inspiration from drafting a speech that focused on cockfights and elections as a gamble, and on the other hand, Taiwan candidates kneeled before candidates in loco parentis, requesting votes. Other methods could be having celebrity endorsements, catchy campaign songs, and advertisements available in various forms of media. With this, it is questionable whether the voters vote for candidates they assume could take the duties or whether depending on the campaign’s quality. Moreover, those candidates who have no funds or budget for these types of endorsements suffer a great deal.

           The media holds a powerful tool that could either be utilized for good measures or abuse. Nonetheless, the contributions of the media to the discernment of the citizens of a country should be acknowledged. According to McFaul (2005), media can be an instrument to counter false stories and statements of any running candidates. Therefore, it safeguards the transparency of democratic procedures. Moreover, the media is considered “watchdogs” who certify transparency in information, accountability, and legitimacy in the political process by promoting debates and discussions among the candidate for the voting masses to get to know them better. The media can demand answers and action from candidates and other political institutions, as well as, provide reliable sources of information about the candidates. The role of media is important to guarantee that the public has the information they need to vote for the candidates fit for the position.

Although, it is important to consider the other form of media that has arisen- the social media. Rainie (2012) discussed that 22% of media networking allows individuals to converse with the persons they are most likely voting for, thus, providing a platform for citizens from far locations to either argue or affirm each other’s choices. On the other hand, Arugay (2022) highlighted the strong influence of social media in the 2022 elections which illustrates the power of popular culture in the Philippine national elections. He discussed that, due to the national and local elections being situated during the global pandemic, it limits other methods to effectively reach different places in the country. Hence, the outcome of the elections is decided largely through social media through memes, changes of frames, songs, and other edits. Given the technology and physical restrictions, Filipinos are inclined to find other alternatives. However, these types of methods can be dangerous since the abusive use of media can promote false information and narratives. This outcome could be destructive to the nation since it would convince them to elect leaders based on untruthful information.

Voting is a way to use the right to suffrage. Hence, it should be taken seriously by the majority. However, the rise of various forms of popular culture somehow diminishes the seriousness of this responsibility. Political campaigns during the election period can be used to find a medium for the candidates to guarantee that the citizens remember their names through catchy dance numbers, memes, video campaign songs, or celebrity endorsements. The danger of voting for candidates who are familiar but not as suitable can be damaging to the future of any country and political teams are taking advantage of these techniques. Nevertheless, media have been trying to counter these agendas but sometimes media would also be utilized to promote these techniques as part of the “entertainment section”. Elections should be considered as means for an upgrade in politics and governance and it seems that the contemporary age has failed to emphasize these probabilities that affect countries greatly. It seems that the rise of technology has influenced the ideology of elections, which should not be taken lightly since it can lead to greater suffering for any nation.

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Tags: #Elections #PopCulture #Candidates #Voters #PopularCulture #Election-PopCulture


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