Monday, November 1, 2010

Political Advertising- Make it Stop!

Election count
(Photo credit: Coventry City Council)
I know this blog is supposed to be about leading a contented life as a disabled person. But there is something else I'd like to write about today, if you will indulge me.

Here in the United States we have a big election tomorrow. It's what we call a midterm election, so we're not voting for President, but we are voting for just about every other possible position in federal, state, and local government.

I'm not here to advocate for any particular candidate or political party, but rather to publicly protest about how absurd the process has become. I understand that it's better than the alternative – not being able to choose your own representative government. But we've been doing this for over 200 years now, and it is getting worse, not better. 

Specifically, I'm here to complain about political advertising on TV. As a disabled person who sits at home all day, I tend to watch a lot of television. I try to pick out the quality programming, but I must admit that sometimes the TV is on in the background for no reason in particular (like right now, for example).

In the last couple of months, my television viewing experience, and more importantly my enthusiasm for tomorrow’s election, has been raped and pillaged by incessant political advertising. It would be one thing if the commercials were informative, well done, or even creative. But they are not. They are absolutely mind-numbing.

In response to this deluge I conducted a scientific study of the candidates’ advertising. My extensive data analysis indicates that if a negative claim is made against an opponent, there is a 99% chance that said claim is at best distorted and at worst completely fabricated. The data further reveals that if a positive claim is made about a candidate, there is an 80% chance that said claim is at best distorted and at worst completely fabricated.

I have scientifically established, therefore, that negative advertising is less informative than positive advertising, and that positive advertising is far less informative than no advertising at all. Because of this, as I finalize my voting decisions today, I will award “bonus points” to the candidates who inundated me with the fewest commercials (but I’ll give more bonus points for lack of negative commercials, as they are the worst kind).

OK, maybe I didn't really conduct a study, but I bet my percentages are pretty damn close to the truth.

I can think of only one good reason why candidates spend so much money on television advertising. It must work. I would be ashamed of myself if I let the content of these commercials influence my vote in any way (other than my bonus point system). We should listen to debates, meet with the candidates, hash things out with our friends and neighbors, but we can’t let these fraudulent commercials sway us! Since many of us apparently are duped by this disinformation, then I must reluctantly conclude that we are a weak-minded society, prone to manipulation. Shame on us.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I'll make my informed voting decisions based on how I feel about the candidates’ ability to represent my family’s interests, with adjustments made for how I was treated as a consumer of their advertising.  The only way we can stop the insanity is to demonstrate to the next round of political candidates that mudslinging and tacky advertisements will not produce the desired outcome.  All television commercials of the current style, even the positive ones, are a waste of our time and an insult to our intelligence.  Make it stop!

Can I get an amen?
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  1. Amen! I'm behind you 100% on this one. I'm sick and tired of it and I'm not going to take it any more! Let's get together and start an Anti-political Advertising website. If we can't change political funding and campaigning laws, maybe we could get a filter installed on our TVs.


  2. Yep.

    Everybody hates these ads. Our senate race in WA has been particularly brutal. However, like you noted, they must work. And, yes, I think we are becoming a feeble-minded society drawn to sound bites, pithy slogans, and believing whatever pundits fling about. Yet the issues are so complex and nuanced requiring time to gain an understanding of the impacts.

    I really took some time to read articles beyond those sponsored by one side or the other, watch public TV debates with local candidates, and the like. I realize that not everyone has that time (I don't work anymore).

    So, everyone hates this drivel. But for it to not work, how do we encourage thoughtful civic engagement and the inclination to delve into the issues?

  3. I, too, wrote about the same thing today. Co-winky-dink? Absolutely no! I think most of our citizens are fed up with those ads! I get as much info from other sources as I can, and then I make a decision. Just think -- by Wed. we'll have some peace and quiet!

  4. And I wrote, much less eloquently, about politicking yesterday. I think we all are tired of the crap ads on TV that are all sale and no substance. I, too, am dealing with the Senate race in WA State. And I think more money has been thrown at this one race than could bail out our nearly bankrupt state.

    I wish I could find the bright side. Unless that it will be over after tomorrow is it.

  5. Val, thanks for the AMEN!

    Tuna, political ad filter? Brilliant!

    Donna, I wish I knew a way to make the electorate smarter, but I don't. I think I like Tuna's filter idea best :-)

    Muff, I don't know one human being who finds these ads interesting. Not one!

    Webster, 1 hr and 15 mins until the polls close here in Maine!