Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
It's three weeks until election day, three very long weeks. And I can only expect the pace of political ads on TV to pick up.
There are millions of dollars being spent in this year's campaigns, and much of it is going to one or two political ad agencies in Washington, D.C., not here in Minnesota.
The ads use scary music, bad photographs of opponent candidates, and icky colors to create a mood of fear and dislike. And that's before they even get to the message. Sometimes there's really not even a message. The whole point is to irritate our primal fears and self-preservation instincts.
The hope is that we voters magically will be swayed, without us noticing, They also hope we won't mind the negativity of it all.
But I notice. And I mind.
Perhaps because I am in the media business, and I understand how easy it is to portray something or someone in a good light or bad (whether or not they deserve it). Perhaps it's because I have a brain and I'm not afraid to use it.
I try to see through the blue tint on the opponent's photo, and past the Psycho-esque music and mood.
I question: Who's behind this, and what are they trying to get me to do?
Where do they get those figures (again, the newspaper person's role), and can they be verified?
Is this ad informing, or yelling? Persuasive, or threatening? Factual, or emotionally manipulative?
Who's paying for the ad? If it's a candidate, who's contributing to their campaign? If it's a party, who's contributing there? Bottom line: who stands to gain financially if they get their way? (There's always someone who gains financially, and it's not just the ad agency or the TV station!)
I think the United States takes political advertising to the extreme. An unnecessary extreme. Why not do more public debates, televised or not? (Because it's harder to "spin" and control them.) Why not focus on issues instead of emotion? (Ditto.)
Those who plan and pay for these negative, manipulative ads believe that they are effective. Believe that we voters are dumb enough, uninformed enough, or apathetic enough to buy into them, every time.
Well I, for one, am sick and tired of it. I will pay attention, and question, and probe. I'll watch when WCCO, for instance, does their fact-checking on political ads. I'll go to the websites shown in the ads and see who's behind them, whose agenda they're foisting on me.
And then I'll decide for myself.
I'll get informed.
And I'll vote November 2.
Because that's our privilege and it's our duty.