By Angela Abbamonte
November is approaching, and just as leaves are beginning to decorate the ground, political ads are starting to make television viewing a little more “colorful.”
I recently found an ad on YouTube for a politician running to represent California in Congress. I am usually prepared for snide commercials about the various indiscretions of the other candidate and how voters should choose the candidate who “supports this message,” but after watching this ad I did not know whether to laugh or cry.
The scene opens on the lovable Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion all dreaming of a political party with the brains, heart and courage to stand up for the people. Dorothy just wants a home that is not blown away by taxes. The “Wall Street Wizard” is no help, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., soars in on a broomstick to call her IRS flying monkeys on the group. What are a girl and her little dog to do?
Enter our hero. John Dennis steps on the scene with a bucket of water labeled “Freedom” and gets rid of the “Wicked Witch of the Left.” He then expresses his desire to “throw a little water on politicians who say one thing and do another.”
While the ad gets 10 points for creativity, it reminds me of how ruthless and cutthroat political campaigns can be.
There is also the advertisement controversy surrounding the race to represent Florida in Congress.
Current representative Alan Grayson, D. – Fla., has endorsed a political ad about his competition, Republican Daniel Webster, calling him “Taliban Dan” for his radical religious views.
In the ad, clips of Webster’s speech given to Christian men at a conference were played, showing Webster talking about his wife, declaring “she should submit to me” because it is in the Bible. Meanwhile, text about how he wants to make divorce illegal and voted to deny abused women health care flashed across the screen.
When you look at the whole speech, Webster is actually cautioning men against having that view of their wives. He says he has a verse describing his relationship with his wife, and it is not the one describing how she should submit to him, but rather the verse saying he should love her as Christ loves the church.
When confronted with this misrepresentation, Grayson avoids the issue of accuracy, claiming his opponent is trying to impart his “bizarre religious views” on citizens.
Watching the evening news in Jackson provides an education on the lives of Roy Herron and Stephen Fincher, Tennessee’s Democrat and Republican candidates running for Congress in the 8th district. Herron lets us know his opponent broke the law and is “unworthy of our trust,” while the National Republican Congressional Committee warns citizens Herron will vote with Pelosi and taxes will go up.
The tradition of using political ads in campaigns had an important beginning in the presidential race between Thomas Dewey and Harry S. Truman in 1948.
Dewey was ahead in the polls when Truman started traveling across the country on a whistle-stop tour to gain support. Dewey was advised to start making political commercials. He dismissed the idea, saying it was undignified, and stuck with his cautious and inoffensive campaign tactic.
That November the campaign proved a failure as Truman was elected president. This, along with the introduction of television, is sometimes thought of as the end of an era when it comes to political campaigns.
It seems to me political ads are more focused on trying to dig out the skeletons of others rather than presenting for the public their own political beliefs and plans.
If there are no skeletons to be found, politicians such as Dennis rely on emotion to get votes. Who wants to leave Dorothy and Toto in the hands of the Wicked Witch of the Left?
One thing I have learned as a journalist is to investigate everything for yourself. Do not rely on the information presented to you, especially when the entity presenting the information clearly has an agenda. It worries me that people rely on cutthroat, emotional and often ridiculous political ads to make decisions when they get to the voting booth.
It may be true Fincher received mysterious campaign funds, and I would not be surprised if Herron agrees with Pelosi on political matters. I believe these are things that contribute to an informed decision for voters, but a candidate who spends more time tearing down his or her opponent than revealing his or her own ideas seems more like a bully than a policy maker.