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Equal Access Does Not Guarantee Equal Outcome - Wendy McElroy, FOX News

What is the Deal?

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November 10, 2002

What is the deal with Election Day?

By Jan A. Larson

What is the deal with Election Day?

Another election day has come and gone.  The television airwaves will return to beer and AOL commercials rather than political ads.  Personally, I enjoy political ads, particularly the negative ads, much better than an ad that extols the virtues of a particular candidate.

There seems to be no end to the creativity of the creators of negative advertising.  I love the candid photos of the targeted candidate in an unflattering pose or with a contorted facial expression.  Paraphrased newspaper articles and commentary are always the source of great amusement for me.  Every election will produce scenarios such as:
  • In 1974, private citizen Jones was asked by a reporter from the Hicksville Gazette at the Hicksville Checkers Festival if he and his wife spend much time playing checkers.  The reporter asked Mrs. Jones if she ever won the checkers games against her husband.  She replied, “He beats me all the time.”
  • In the 2002 Congressional race, Candidate Smith’s negative ad refers to the 1974 story, quoting Candidate Jones’ wife as saying, “ … he beats me all the time.”  While displaying an unflattering pose of Jones with a twisted smile on his face, the voice over announcer cautions, “We don’t need a wife-beater in Congress.  Vote for Smith, he loves his wife.”
Not all of the political advertisements are negative.  It is not uncommon to see ads showing the candidate, graduating from college, striding confidently into or out of some sort of government building, walking arm in arm with a woman, ostensibly his wife, with two young children in tow and/or discussing issues of great national importance with an established, career politician and always wearing a business suit.  The problem is that all of the candidates look the same.  Some will elicit the heartfelt testimonials of family, friends, celebrities or established politicians.  The heartfelt testimonials all sound the same.  Plastic candidates, repetitive testimonials.  Who do you believe?

The few deep-pocketed candidates around the country will flood the airwaves with their message and/or mug.  Can you really trust a candidate that spends millions on getting elected to suddenly acquire some fiscal responsibility?

When it is all said and done, who won?  We know that Smith or Jones “won” the election, but did “we the people” win?  With all the money spent on convincing the electorate that this candidate or that is better than the other, it seems that we really don’t know much of anything about the winner or the loser.  No wonder there is apathy come election time.  The messages are all the same and after hearing them all, we really don’t know anything about the candidates.  To top it off, the same candidates that are determined to change the status quo if they are elected become the targets of the pro-change candidates in the next election.

Of course we could change the way we choose our leaders.  We could use the system that seems to work so well in Iraq.  Everyone votes and they all vote for the same candidate.  On second thought, I think I’ll stick with our system, negative ads, plastic politicians and all.


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The opinions expressed in "What is the Deal?" guest columns reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Pie of Knowledge.  The owner and staff of the Pie of Knowledge accept no responsibility for the content or accuracy of submitted commentary.  (c) Copyright 2002 - The Pie of Knowledge (Jan A. Larson).  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.