Wendy Davis, Chris Christie will overcome rocky starts

The campaign has already started for the next United States President and Texas Governorship despite months, even years, before the election. Campaigns are heatedly pounding away at loosely worded press releases and, less importantly, attack campaigns.

Candidate for Governor and Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, got caught with her hand in the cookie jar trying to cherry-pick parts of her life story. The biography on her website and long-touted stories, as the Dallas Morning News reports, are mostly true but the details lacked veracity.

For one, she mislead supporters by saying she was separated from her husband at 19, when she was actually divorced at 21. This isn’t technically lying but definitely used to play up her struggle. She also seemingly lied when she claimed she paid her way through Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School through scholarships and loans. In actuality, her then-husband paid for her last two years at TCU and cashed out his 401(k) for her Harvard education and took out a loan during her final year.

The information that her campaign fudged is vestigial at best, but in the long run it may be telling of her character. My mother certainly remembers the year she was divorced and when she had her children. The rationale behind the lies appears political – so she could use keywords like “single, teenage mother” and “worked her way through college.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, stepped in a pile recently too – or more likely his enemies shoved his foot in the pile for him. There’s no proof – yet – that the George Washington Bridge closing has a direct tie to Christie, but culpability lies instead with his former deputy chief of staff. Nonetheless, media outlets for better or worse have labeled it “Bridgegate” and latch the event to Christie in a slipshod way.

These two events have sparked a wildfire of negative press and are touted by pundits on both sides as character-damning acts. Well, possibly. It’s more likely that we’ll all forget about it come time for elections.

One reason for this is a theory called the “CNN Effect” where the media – specifically 24-hour cable networks – set the political discussion as agenda setters. The thought is that whatever the networks are talking about, so must the nation. Next week there will be a new trending story and Bridgegate and Davis’s Biography…gate? will both fade into recent history.

Republicans and Democrats also don’t care in the long run. While negative campaigning has increased in the last few years, political parties try to tout the “awesome” qualities of their candidates with no vested interest in the opposite party candidate’s gaffes. In the end, most people will determine how the candidate’s ideals will affect their day-to-day lives (healthcare, transportation, etc.) rather than mistakes they’ve made in the past.

Politicians have a stereotype and for good reason: they’re human. In the end humans all make mistakes and lie – some politicians just make worse mistakes than others. The odds that a lie or verbal slip will ruin a campaign *cough cough* Todd Akin *cough cough* are unlikely and only happen in rare circumstances.

Too many voters tow the party line and rhetoric without knowing exactly for what they’re voting. While it’s fun to gossip about Davis’s embellished vita and Christie’s embellished waistline, everyone should instead make a list of which issues matter to them and vote that way.

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