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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Editorial | Ron DeSantis can step down … literally

Ron+DeSantis+at+a+pro-law+enforcement+rally+in+Staten+Island+Feb.+20%2C+2023.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Ron DeSantis at a pro-law enforcement rally in Staten Island Feb. 20, 2023.

Oh Ronny, Ron Sandemonius, Meatball Ron — it is time for you to finally step down. But we do not mean from the presidential race — that should have probably happened a while ago. You somehow went from being Donald Trump’s biggest competitor to running one of the most embarrassing presidential campaigns in a while. It’s not just us that is saying it — it’s nearly everybody. 

You started out as the next face of the conservative party. A strong, American man with a nuclear family and traditional values. It was really hard to screw up a situation this perfect. Perhaps we could blame the book banning or the abysmal participation in your debate with Governor Gavin Newsom — who isn’t even running for the executive branch’s highest position. Maybe we can hope you got screwed over by pro-trans-rights republicans or Disney adults who were pissed you messed with their favorite mouse. Or perhaps maybe your image wasn’t as perfect and hardy-American as you made it out to be.

Mr. Ron DeSantis, mighty governor and leader of Florida, when we grant you permission to “step down” from the presidential race, we do not mean from competing against Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. Oh no. We mean stepping down and out of your heels. We mean returning to your 5-foot 7-inch frame.

There is nothing wrong with being a short man. But what is true is that America has an image problem. While it’s funny to make jokes and laugh at the clearly visible lifts that DeSantis wore throughout his campaign, it does bring to light a very serious problem Americans have. 

Americans value image. It’s no secret that one’s outer appearance tells a story, but Americans really like to jump the gun and make wild assumptions after looking at someone for mere seconds. Certain physical attributes equate to certain personality traits, at least at the subconscious level. For example, long hair means that you are more feminine if you are a woman, but perhaps unkempt if you are a man. Wearing tight clothes as a woman means that you are promiscuous, but if you wear pant suits that means you are businesslike.

These attributions become troubling when they are prescribed to uncontrollable characteristics like race, gender and, yes, height. Black people are perceived as “less intelligent” than white people and women are perceived as “weaker” than men. Taller people are perceived as much more powerful and dominant than shorter individuals. When you look at it this way, despite all of the other visually “positive” attributes DeSantis had going into the Republican primaries, he really struggled to maintain a powerful appearance due to his height.

The truth is, shorter people have a more difficult time in life than their taller companions. And the same is true for presidents, whose average height is 5 foot 11 inches. The taller a candidate is, the more likely they are to fare better. They receive more of the popular vote, which doesn’t necessarily mean a win, but is usually a strong indicator. We’ve definitely had our fair share of shorter presidents — Jimmy Carter was the shortest of the last few presidents standing at about 5 feet, 9 inches. All presidents since have been over 5 feet, 11 inches, with many standing well over 6 feet.

In American politics, the attribution of certain characteristics and traits to political candidates extends beyond height, and more deeply influences perceptions of gender. Stereotypically, feminine-presenting women are perceived as being “weak.” Whereas female candidates may be described as kind or compassionate, their male counterparts are often described as assertive or competent — traits associated with power. And when women try to step outside of their femininity, acting in more “masculine” ways in tune with their male colleagues, they are not rewarded the same attributions, but rather perceived as shrill or cold. Women must also be perceived as attractive to even have a fighting chance versus their male competitors, as ugliness is not a winning quality to American voters. Just like shortness hinders the political careers of men, femininity and woman-ness hinders the political careers of women which can be further compounded by other factors such as race or sexuality — with their own subconsciously assigned characteristics and traits. 

Looking at it critically, it makes sense why DeSantis rocked some lifts on the campaign trail. Americans needed to think that he was tall to believe that he was powerful enough to actually win the candidacy. This archaic form of assigning characteristics to appearance is shifting election outcomes right under our very noses. Whether we’re ignoring the short guy because he looks too weak or the woman who looks too callous — not in a good way, of course — we need to find it within ourselves to shift away from these antiquated beliefs that visual appearances equate to characteristics. We need to stop doing this to everybody, not just to embarrassing presidential candidates.

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