Television is a medium originally meant to educate and entertain the masses. Under that pretext political ads would make sense as they would inform the public about the views of the candidates and help the public make an informed decision. Reality is quite different though.
Television is not so affectionately (but arguably accurately) described as the ‘boob tube’ or iTV – idiot television. Today television is predominately a search for the lowest common denominator, that ceaselessly finds new lows to mass produce. In that context, political ads share no real content about what a political candidate believes, but moreso delves into smears of opponents and obfuscates or omits pertinent facts. Informed decisions are replaced by a drive to create emotional responses that may draw or block votes to a particular candidate.
The ability to tap the internet in the same manner as television ads only magnifies the result.
A recent example, which is by no means exclusive to any particular political party nor restricted to just presidential elections, is the recent anti-Romney ad that focuses on Bain Capital. The ad, by Priorities USA, a pro-Obama Super PAC avoids the question of the success or failure of President Obama’s economic policies over the past 3 years. Instead it focuses on a specific event, in a corporation many years ago, that is unpopular. The goal is an emotional response.
This is what the ad says, and afterwards most importantly is what Donnie Box, featured in the video, thinks of President Obama.
A strong video, meant to evoke a strong emotional response. But let’s add the context that Priorities USA does not want voters to hear.
“I think Obama is a jerk, a pantywaist, a lightweight, a blowhard. He hasn’t done a goddamn thing that he said he would do. When he had a Democratic Senate and Democratic Congress, he didn’t do a damn thing. He doesn’t have the guts to say what’s on his mind.” – Donnie Box
Mr. Box obviously has no great love of EITHER candidate. To say he endorses President Obama is a stretch at best, and lacking credibility at that. The most real understanding, once context is added, of how Mr. Box feels may be to say that ‘Romney the businessman did things that hurt him, and President Obama failed even when he had every opportunity’.
There are likely millions of Americans that share that same feeling. The truth wouldn’t motivate any of them to vote exclusively one way or another. But television ads meant to target emotions without reason might. A fact that Priorities USA surely realizes.
As we have said many times in this election (most recently in our review of Facebook political ads) and in prior elections at the local, State, and national levels – the public should never base a vote on a 30 second soundbite. No matter who it is for or against, the truth will always be distorted.
No matter who you vote for, you should review their political record of votes and positions on issues, read their speeches (especially when made at times they were NOT running for elected office), and evaluate them versus the same criteria of their opponent.
For decades political ads have swayed the emotions of voters, and oddly enough for decades the American people have had less and less confidence and connection with their elected officials. M V Consulting, Inc. does not care who you vote for, just that you make an informed vote.
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