Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Political Advertising- Out of Control

Obama Change
Obama Change (Photo credit: Atlantian5)
Here in the United States we have a presidential election in two weeks. We are also voting for just about every other possible position in federal, state, and local government. During these election cycles we take great pride in demonstrating to our children the importance of democracy in action. I hope they’re not watching too closely.

I'm not here to advocate for any particular candidate or issue, 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 – however, we've been doing this free election thing 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 (see how cleverly I worked disability into even a political blog post). I try to select only the quality programming, but I must admit that sometimes the TV is on in the background for no reason in particular.

English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the last couple of months, my television viewing experience, and more importantly my enthusiasm for the coming 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, on par with the most juvenile used car or discount furniture commercials, but not quite so truthful.

Based on my years of careful observation, negative advertisements have a 99% chance of being highly misleading if not outright lies. Positive advertisements have about an 80% chance of being highly misleading if not outright lies. Because of this, as I finalized my voting decisions I awarded “bonus points” to the candidates who inundated me with the least amount of their bullshit.

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 through my bonus point system). We should listen to debates and read as much as we can (skeptically), meet face-to-face with the candidates (where possible), hash things out with our friends, neighbors, and bartenders (when we can do so without inciting a riot), 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. This makes me sad, as sometimes I fantasize that I live in a world populated solely by thoughtful, intelligent human beings (like people who read Enjoying The Ride, for example). Silly me.

I make my informed voting decisions based on the candidates’ ability to represent my family’s interests and the interests of our society as a whole, 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?

I’ll leave you with this. Those of you who are Facebook friends with me saw the open letter I posted on my status recently…
Dear Direct TV,
Today I filled out my absentee ballot and put it in the mail. Therefore, there is no need for you to continue to inundate me with political commercials. Please resume beer commercials and spoilers that reveal way too much about upcoming shows that I already planned on watching. Heck, even bring back cigarette commercials if you want to. Just stop bombarding me with these mind numbing, intelligence insulting, wastes of money and time. Thank you.
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  1. Oh Yes! I'm with you on this, brother, and here in MN we aren't even getting most of the national ads because MN is supposedly already decided. I cannot imagine what it must be like in other places.

    But I heard Cokie Robeerts on public radio yesterday and she says that this is not the worst political season ever--her comment was, "they don't shoot each other any more!"

  2. Last night, there four -- count 'em 4, four, FOUR -- political ads in a row during the commercial break. I'm tired of candidates who are negative; I'm tired of candidates who use their relatives to sell themselves; and I'm tired of candidates who lie. Give me an ad that says "I plan to do 1., 2., 3. If you like those ideas, please vote for me." Then maybe I will. [P.S. My husband said that the networks make a boatload of $$ from these ads, so don't expect them to depart any time soon!]

  3. Amen!

    Our solution has been to DVR everything we watch including the evening news.

  4. I couldn't agree more


  5. Everyone,

    Thanks for comments. The end is in sight!


  6. Mitch---AMEN, BROTHER!! I even have to blog about it. AARRGGHH