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Editorial: Politicians are people, too

By TNH Editorial Staff

On Saturday, thousands of alumni, students and other members of the UNH community convened on Boulder Field for the annual tailgating tradition prior to the UNH vs. William & Mary football game. Among those enjoying the pregame festivities was U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown. The former Senator from Massachusetts spoke openly with students and others while enjoying the cool afternoon and a beer.

Why was this something that so many people found interesting to see?

Some people like to drink beer. Politicians are, well, people and some of them like to drink beer, too. It’s not exactly groundbreaking and yet when Brown tilted his head back to let a few sips guzzle in, everyone around him watched in awe. Maybe some people are just struck by seeing a public figure such as a politician do something other than smile at the camera and sound off countless lines of rhetoric.

This brings into question how we as a society view our community leaders. Why do people watch someone like Brown drink a beer and think it is any different from the “average joe” drinking it?

During President Barack Obama’s first campaign for office in 2008, he and his campaign staff tried to keep his cigarette smoking habit off-camera. Who knows if the president has quit smoking since then? Furthermore, does it really matter? The man may have arguably the most stressful job in the nation, after all. That could be poor timing to try and kick a nicotine habit.

Of course, we must hold our elected officials to a higher standard of citizenry. They should be examples to the rest of the populace, but at what point do we hold them to be more than human? Images such as Brown drinking a can of beer, or other candid shots of politicians, should be taken as a reminder that these are still just people among us.

There was nothing seemingly wrong with Brown’s attendance at the UNH Homecoming tailgate, other than drawing attention due to his celebrity status as a well-known politician in the region. He did not distribute alcohol to undergraduates, and he did not shotgun a beer. There were people reportedly in the crowd shouting lewd comments about Brown’s opponent, the incumbent Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Brown was criticized in the media for not responding to this. While Brown cannot be expected to control the attitude of individuals in the crowd, it may have been wise to speak out against these individuals.

An article written by Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post was posted on Monday digging into Brown for attending the event. The headline of the article reads, “Scott Brown Frats It Up. It Goes Exactly As You’d Expect.” Frankly, we as college students should be upset that the mainstream media sees us as just a “frat” party, a term which can carry various connotations. But we should consider that the lewd comments that were said are unacceptable. Regardless of which candidate you choose to support, such language is completely inappropriate.

Jeanne Shaheen was also out on the campaign trail Saturday, serving pancakes at a breakfast for supporters in Concord. While the two activities may have been of different nature, the two candidates were tapping into two demographics of voters whom will hopefully turnout to cast their vote come Nov. 4.

Perhaps attending Homecoming and drinking a beer around students is not worth the trouble it has stirred in the media for Brown. We just hope voters will focus on the issues and where the candidates stand when they go to the polls.

Editor’s Note: While this opinion may seem supportive of Scott Brown, it is NOT an endorsement of his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

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