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The Politics of Pageants

One hundred ninety-five countries signed the Paris agreement, in which each country sets nonbinding goals to reduce man-made climate change. The U.S. is withdrawing from the agreement, citing negligible environmental effects and negative economic impact. Good decision? Bad decision? Which is it and why?” Maria Menounos asked Cara Mund on live television on  Sep. 10.

Cara Mund’s crowning moment | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Review

Mund is not locked in a political debate, although the pressure on her to answer in a vote-reeping way is high. Cara Mund is Miss North Dakota, and after her liberal response to  the question, she is now Miss America.

“I do believe it’s a bad decision. Once we reject that, we take ourselves out of the negotiation table. And that’s something that we really need to keep in mind,” Mund said. “There is evidence that climate change is existing, so whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table. And I think it’s just a bad decision on behalf of the United States.”

Of all the final questions asked of the Final Five, only one was not political. Of all the responses to the political questions, only one did not blatantly lean Left. Needless to say, the moderate was not even runner-up to the crown, although her answer displayed confidence and the ability to produce an eloquent answer in under twenty seconds. These are the traits judges supposedly look for when scoring the onstage question category; based on the questions, it seems more like they were electing a political candidate to office.

This brings to mind Carrie Prejean, Miss California 2009, who committed the worst blunder in pageant history when she walked right into famously gay gossip columnist Perez Hilton’s trap of a  final question.

Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?” Hilton asked.

Snap! goes the metal snare.

Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I think I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman,” Prejean infamously said.

The following day, pageant director Keith Lewis personally reached out to Hilton, who expressed

Prejean answering her final question | Photo courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor

offense to Prejean’s answer.

“Religious beliefs have no place in politics in the Miss CA family,” Lewis said.

If this truly is the belief system of the Miss USA organization, why was a religiously-based political issue allowed to be asked at all? And if contestants are allowed, seemingly provoked, to express their political views, and religion is often highly influential on the most controversial political topics, then vocalization of contestants’ religious beliefs should be encouraged. And perhaps they already are- just not in Prejean’s case because her political beliefs were averse to Hilton’s.

As political parties clash within the ensuing mosh pit of the recent presidential election, they bump into places they do not belong. The result is the political tainting of organizations, such as Miss America, that are ordinarily widely supported because they are neutral and based on common moral ground. Miss America has many job obligations similar to those of a politician: she travels the world, speaks to the masses, meets with prominent societal figures, and is heavily interactive  with the community through volunteering. Unlike a politician, Miss America does not represent any one faction; she symbolizes the modern, intelligent, confident American woman. Naturally, she has political opinions, which she should be free to express in competition as a part of her identity as an informed, independently-thinking individual. These views should not, however, play any part in determining whether she walks away with a title.

The four, glistening tips of the Miss America crown are not pure decorum; they stand for scholarship, success, style, and service. Contestants have proven themselves as exceedingly qualified in all of these aspects through private interviews with the judges, talent, evening gown, and physical fitness competitions, in addition to their numerous life-long academic and community service accomplishments. For nearly 100 years, this has not changed. A fifth point for politics would crowd the crown and make it too heavy for Miss America to bear. I do not advocate for Miss America to shut up and baton twirl; I only wis

h that the judges would not force her to swallow and regurgitate political swords as if her pageant campaign depends on it.

About Evelyne Eng

Evelyne Eng

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