By: The David
I’ve been watching the political campaigns, and I’ve been watching the events of our times and how they affect the campaigners, most of whom will do or say anything and everything to convince an electorate that seems more eager to punish an incumbent, rather than repair the damage inflicted on this country by wars that should not have been started, have lasted far too long and cost far too much, by eight years featuring a lack of proper economic oversight and down-right neglect. In return, the electorate has become cynical, suspicious and “easy.” So many have become “easy” in the sense that they can be won over by electioneering slogans born of huge amounts of money paid to Madison Avenue type advertising agencies. It seems that all a candidate needs to secure office today is an ego the size of Texas, and access to a never-ending supply of the coin of the realm, either his or her own, that donated by corporations or that donated by sources that can now remain unknown.
The “I” factor is a given. The need for recognition in a type A personality provides the drive. It is no longer simply a matter of going into Public Service for the greater good. It has now become a situation where politics is a means to furthering a personal agenda that seeks power and influence. There is little if any honor left in the politics of our day. To be a viable candidate one should be wealthy and photogenic. A viable platform is not needed, and honesty is a characteristic that has too often been left in the dust. A potential governor may have been mired in a huge scandal involving Medicare fraud. That candidate, with the help of a billion dollar personal fortune and through a very strong advertising campaign can refuse to comment, but can revise his own history and thus secure a place on the ticket for the office he is seeking. If an untruth is repeated often enough it gains credence and becomes today’s version of the truth.
If a potential office-seeker lacks a full wallet there is yet another way to reach a public that is more than willing to be deceived. It seems that never before have the ads been so hateful. In truth though, negative campaigning has been going on all the way back to the early days of this country. John Adams had to endure hateful calumny when he was nominated as a candidate for the Presidency. It is nothing new, but in this age of instantaneous information (or misinformation as the case may be,) words spread at a rate that is unprecedented.
A lie is told. Many suspect it to be untrue. It is spread by news outlet, blog or word of mouth. It gains credence as it is picked up by cable news, and it is repeated and repeated….. And repeated. It is no longer questioned. It is now a part of the campaign. It is truth, or seen as truth. After all, where there is smoke there must be fire.
If the lie is interesting enough it can now be inserted into a campaign advert. This is particularly true if it fits into the agenda of a Political Action Committee or Lobby. The lie, now clothed in a respectable veneer can become a part of our home lives as it blares from our television sets and radios. The ads are generally slick. They may be soft, or they may be loud. They often play on and exploit the fears of a group. Senior Citizens who may fear the imposition of death panels should universal health care ever be the order of the day or who fear the loss of Social Security payments. Conservative voters are exploited by those who demonize any advances that enhance the lives of the poor, and have convinced these conservative voters that such humane steps forward are a part of the creeping menace that is Socialism. Poor and disadvantaged persons are exploited as lazy villains and their situation is touted as being next to criminal by those who would lower their own taxes at the expense of those less fortunate. The advancement of women, minorities, immigrants and of the gay community are maligned by the religious right and its followers as a cynical means to raise fear and secure votes for those who are willing to support their agenda and at the same time raise funds ostensibly to combat the menace these groups present to “family values,” but actually to line their own pockets and further their own agenda of moving toward a theocratic ownership of these United States.
There are many groups willing to pay out millions of dollars to promote their own way of life at the expense of the country and its citizens. The saddest part of all is that we are allowing this to happen. We are allowing our country to be hijacked by those with bottomless pockets who can subsidize the propaganda that is their vehicle.
There is always an underlying agenda on the part of the individual or group who pays for the ads that influence the electorate. The purpose of the advertisement can be seen within its content. Who is paying for it cannot be as easily determined. Laws have been changed. Public disclosure of who is behind the money is sometimes impossible to determine. The financers are cowardly and hide behind names that might appear to be benign and friendly. Their names do not tell the story. These ads can be financed by narrow business interests, by radical political groups, by religious groups and although not strictly legal, by foreign business interests working through their American subsidiaries. If the viewer tries to determine who financed the ads and reads the information at the bottom of the screen as it ends, he will often find frustration either because the information appears and disappears too quickly, or because the group paying for the ad uses a name that is meaningless. What does “Citizens for a Brighter Day” tell you? How could you unravel the mystery of who is actually writing the cheque, and why?
The only defense the public can have during these campaigns is to become somewhat cynical. We need to ask; “What is the message of each ad?” Who benefits, because someone always benefits. Finally we need to look at the credibility of each ad is the President really the devil as Limbaugh seems to imply? Is Nancy Pelosi really as omnipotent as the attack ads represent? Are all Democrats seeking to install a completely socialist government? Were George Bush and his Dick really the saviors of Western Democracy, or is it possible that their politics of hate have led us to these black days? Are the leaders of the so called “Tea Party” truly looking to save the country or are they the most cynical of all, seeking to exploit the frustrations of the populace, and trying through subterfuge to put the ship of state into the hands of those who would turn the clock back and take back their country. They would take it back to the days when power resided with the people…. the right people…. the white, heterosexual, propertied male variety of people!