Attack ads winning mid-term races
It appears political attack ads have somehow overtaken Geico to become the most broadcasted commercials on television.
With the upcoming mid-term elections, politicians seem to be favoring taking a swing at their opponent rather than building their own image by kissing babies or other such admirable actions.
A report done by Campaign Media Analysis Group, an organization that tracks political ad buys, estimated the candidates for both federal and state offices have already spent double the amount of the 2006 season; a half billion dollars on TV attack ads.
The states at the forefront of this trend are those where the election races are the closest. None seem to be more heated than in our own state of California. With a senate seat and the governor’s office at stake, this election season is critical to the direction that California takes in the near future.
However, instead of trying to build up candidates who are qualified and capable of directing our citizens on the right path, it seems like the new direction of politics is to remind voters that we live in a world dictated by the mistakes of other people. Voters are left befuddled and bullied into deciding: which of these two horrible candidates is deserving of my vote?
Similar to Bush’s tactics in his re-election campaign, the focus of recent TV marketing seems to be intent on creating a climate of fear and indecisiveness. This may have effective results, but is it necessarily best for the people who simply hope to make the right choice?
Usually a trademark of a final campaign push, attack ads have reared their ugly heads much earlier this election season, popping up in primary elections between candidates of the same party and with ugly results.
The Pennsylvania primary, for the democratic nomination, saw Joe Sestak relentlessly attack his opponent, Arlen Specter, claiming he was a cautiously conservative liberal. If that wasn’t enough, these same commercials included pictures of Specter after he had just undergone chemotherapy, bringing his age into question.
The result: a victory for Sestak.
This issue isn’t isolated to commercial breaks alone, but in the debate room as well. In the race for governor, Californians were introduced to a new kind of debate. One which took the focus off of the major issues and onto a Jerry Brown campaign aides’ reference to Whitman as a whore. Of course Whitman faced an interrogation over whether or not she knew her housekeeper was an illegal immigrant.
It was at that point that I began to wonder if any of this was really important? So what if a campaign aide referred to Meg Whitman in such a way? Did it come out of Brown’s mouth? No!
How big a deal is it that Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant? Is it bad for her conservative stance? Yes. But is it reflective of her personal ability to govern? Probably not.
The same goes for every other race and attack, most of which are simply taken out of context. What difference does it make if someone performed witchcraft in a dorm? It may not be my cup of tea, but everyone was young and ignorant at a some point in their lives.
The fact is that candidates, much like the voters who elect them, are flawed, and while we may want to measure them by the mistakes they’ve made, the only safe way to know how to vote this election season is to do some research. Real research. Voters should feel secure with who they elect, and the only way to do that is by gathering the facts that are readily available to anyone willing to seek them out.