Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Political Advertising – Make It Stop!

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 next week. 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.
In the last couple of months, my television viewing experience, and more importantly my enthusiasm for next week'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, 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?


  1. Amen! Although we have similar negative advertising, I must commend a few candidates who advertise as they should: explaining what they stand for, how they'll initiate change, and request your vote! They'll have mine because they never spoke a negative word about their opponents!

  2. It is the dumbing down of America. We are viewed as dumb, easily fooled as well as uninformed. Hey, maybe they have the right idea since watching all the news programs filled with propaganda leads me to believe the statement (you are entitled to your opinion, but not your facts). Facts no longer matter.
    Good post, Mitch.

  3. Amen!
    And radio is just as bad. A few years ago a local talk radio asked for call-in opinions about political advertising. They quickly ushered me off the air when I complained that only ones that benefitted from all of the advertising was the media companies like theirs.

  4. Amen! I am so disgusted with the ads and whole political process, I don't even want to vote in protest.

  5. i am told that in other countries (the uk?) they have a far shorter campaign season, and candidates are allowed a limited amount of money to spend. makes far more sense than our system of flushing millions down the tube and making the voters so turned off and ill-informed.

  6. As far as your % estimates go, Mitch. It depends. If it's MY candidate--I'm sure that 80% misleading thing could not possibly be right. In that case, I'd go with 5% misleading. If it's the other side's candidate, then you are most definitely right. a good 95% misleading, etc.!

    And let's hear it for Public Radio and Public TV stations, who don't really carry advertising at all. Keeping my dial on them started with a campaign season a loooonnnngggg time ago and has now developed to the point that I hardly ever listen/watch anything else, no matter what the season!

    At least they make every attempt to have both sides and simply let the candidates put their own foots into the proverbial "it."

  7. Yes, Muffie, there are some candidates with only positive advertising. But I'm trying to think of one in a tightly contested race… And it may not be the candidate, but some super pac, with the negative commercials.

    wonlife, yes I've heard that about the UK. I can't we get that here?

    And thanks everyone else for your comments. It's almost over (until next time).

  8. Amen. Just finished my absentee ballot, in mail tomorrow, first time, still getting used to this disabled American thing. Again, I say Amen.


  9. JE, Kim and I filled out our absentee ballots yesterday, and I will walk them over to City Hall tomorrow and drop them off. Some votes I felt good about, but others were clearly the lesser of evils.

  10. I know that this is late in the game (I am sorely behind in my blog reading) but I don't see any of those pesky ads except for the ones that fill my mailbox. Like you,I fill (too much) ofmy time watching TV, nly I do it on my computer using a site called http://www.icefilms.info/index.

    With good ad blockers that my husband has set up on my computer, and that I can't tell you anything about, I can download any of a large group of offerings put up by people I don't know. I don't use the high def ones, preferring the more friendly to my aging laptop standard def options. My favorite being Movreel as it requires no captcha as 180 upload and some of the others do. I suggest you give it a try; life without commercials is liberating. I can watch Homeland, Madame Secretary, Downton Abbey and The Walkng Dead in one fell swoop, and not be interrupted by anything but my pause button to get a snack.