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Election 2016 is harsh reality

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FROM MY PERSPECTIVE by JOHN SHINDLEBOWER/Spencer Magnet Editor

I remember the craze and rabid interest that surrounded a television show that debuted many years ago that I thought at the time was just a poor attempt to recapture the magic of Gilligan’s Island.

The show was Survivor, and more than just chronicling the lives of contestants who were put on a remote island to seemingly fend for themselves and survive the elements and each other, it ushered in a new form of entertainment called reality television.

Granted, entertainment historians will tell you that Survivor was not the first reality television show, but it was the genre’s biggest success and soon every network and cable channel was trying to find a new way to reel in viewers by featuring real people in real situations to capture real drama.

I’ve yet to be hooked on any of these shows. For me, the best reality television has always been a good football game. No actors, no script, an unknown, to-be-determined outcome.

But it’s impossible to escape a culture that has been so shaped by reality television and the way it’s changed the way we are entertained. Today, we thrive on drama that’s not the product of acting. We want to watch raw emotions. We want to see real tears, witness real anger and see people flip completely over the edge for our viewing pleasure.

That might explain why this 2016 Presidential Election is the most compelling race anyone living in America today has ever witnessed. And “compelling” is just the polite way to put it.

In truth, this race has been bizarre, surreal and downright odd. In many ways, it’s become an embarrassment to what our Founders envisioned when they bequeathed to us the right to choose our elected officials.

But it is interesting and it is entertaining. Television ratings for primary debates and political conventions were much higher than normal. People who normally do not pay attention to the news are suddenly following this race. Sadly, probably more from TMZ or the late night comedy shows, but still, there is interest.

Ironically, the show pits businessman Donald Trump, the star of his own reality show called The Apprentice, and Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and First Lady whose marriage has had more drama that a tawdry soap opera.

This match-up offers great entertainment value and it’s a bonanza for television ratings. I’m not sure it’s good for the country. In my opinion, neither of these candidates are fit for the job and only the weak competition they provide for each other makes a Hillary or Donald presidency seem even remotely possible.

But this is reality. We can’t change the channel. Suddenly, life on a deserted island with seven castaways seems more appealing than the prospects of the next four years with either of these candidates as Commander-in-Chief.