The big scandal in the news is that Melania Trump, the same person who lied about graduating with an architecture degree from the University of Slovenia, plagiarized her speech at the Republican National Convention.
Several parts of her speech appear to have been lifted from Michelle Obama’s DNC speech in 2008, which is hilarious considering that the same Republicans who love to criticize the First Lady are now coming to Melania’s defense by applauding her copy-cat speech.
While the Trump camp has completely denied accusations of what many believe to be obvious plagiarism, the truth is that we’re all focusing on a very small component of a huge problem that we’ve all accepted as normal in American politics.
Nearly every politician plagiarizes their speeches, because nearly every politician has a speech writer do the work for them. That very behavior is at the core of plagiarism. Political speeches might represent the ideas of the politician at hand, but often times it’s not written in their own words.
Sure, the writers obviously authorize the use of the speeches because they were paid to write them. But that still doesn’t change the fact that what our politicians are saying in an effort to convince us to cast our ballots in their favor are not their words.
So are we voting for speech writers or are we voting for politicians?
In the case of Melania Trump, I don’t really know much about her political ideology or who she is as a person. Her speech at the convention was a chance for everyone to get to know her. But her time on that stage was nothing more than a missed opportunity because she was just reading from a script someone else prepared for her.
None of what she said was “her” speech. She took someone else’s work and represented it as her own as many politicians, including both Democrats and Republicans, routinely do.
Americans are tired of the platitudes and disingenuous rhetoric. What stood out, and what seemed to work quite well for candidates during this election cycle, were the moments of off-the-cuff speech.
As much as I dislike Trump, I have to admit that his campaign took off because he seemed real and unscripted to a lot of voters. He wasn’t rehearsed, senatorial, or buttoned up. That resonated with people who are distrustful of today’s politicians.
The same went for Bernie Sanders, who obviously had a completely different platform and political ideology from Trump’s. Young people overwhelmingly supported Bernie because he wasn’t the standard politician. He let his hands flail around as he passionately spoke about the issues that sincerely matter to him. He was real.
So yes, Melania’s speech did sound a lot like Michelle Obama’s at times. But when considering the grand scheme of things, none of those words were her own, and that’s the real problem.