During the past two trimesters of our government class, we have had extensive discussions over the high usage of money in political campaign elections. In our upcoming 2012 presidential election, our nation has seen the critical role that money plays in the electoral process. The main question is: Are the voters focusing on voting for the candidate who is most fit to run our country or who has had the most money to influence the voters in the voting booth? According to CNN, during the 2008 and 2012 elections, Obama has managed to earn $200 million. The amount of money put into campaigning is disturbing and corrupt. Why is it that Obama needs this much money to run for re-election? These unrealistically high amounts of money force the people to be manipulated and persuaded to vote for the candidate that can spend more than his or her opponent. The CNN article states, “They [promoters for candidates] get involved with shaping policy, which inevitably makes the good of the people secondary to the good of the deepest pockets.” This proclaims the most corrupt part of elections: people focus more on the earned economical status of the candidate rather than the good of that particular person.
CNN claims that this corruption and distortion is given credit to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. This allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds to promote a candidate. Our current campaign process has turned far from aiming to allow the voters to choose who they feel will best represent our nation, the democratic process, to the other side of the spectrum: fraud. In the article, it states, “By leveling the economic playing field, our politicians have a chance to return to being representatives of the people, no just the ones who know the right people or make the right promises.” This quote has outstanding advice to the voters of America. We should not vote for who has the most money, best connections, or most influencing media. We need to take the time to choose the candidate that will serve our nation best. People are illogically giving their votes to candidates based on the influence of money rather than their service they will give to our country and what they stand for. The money raised in campaign elections has a high influence and manipulation rate in the ballot box, which needs to be put to an end.
Currently Romney and Obama together have earned near $300 million. If this money were to be put aside, would the two candidates be where they are standing? Would they have gotten this far? Money should not be this great of a factor in elections. We are a nation of almost nine percent of the population at a loss for employment. The money the candidates earn is simply money given to the rich. A vast range of the American citizens are jobless, yet the people chose to fundraise for the wealthy. I believe we hold the power as voters in the upcoming election to prove that money is not the sole indicator of who to elect for president. On November 6, 2012, the voters have the control to change our current sham of an election process, by voting for the man who will best serve our country regardless of the amounts of money he has raised and whether or not he can he can outspend his opponents.
The past two trimesters in our Government class we have covered many topics and undergone many discussions. I found that I was most fascinated by the presidential election process. Mainly, I was intrigued by the manipulation and persuasion in the campaign advertisements in which we citizens are so adapted to. In politics, campaign advertisement is the use of paid media through newspapers, radio, television, and other such sources to influence the vote of the citizens. Political advertisements are everywhere. Our society today is a media-involved atmosphere, in which these ads can be seen through all electronic devices. For decades, a large portion of the money raised in the campaign process has been used to purchase television spots as they have deemed the most effective communication tool to reach and manipulate the votes of wide ranged audiences. As technology advances, all media sources become more critical to candidates; they must present themselves well, or lose.
For example, it is said Franklin D. Roosevelt would not have won presidency in our modern era because people would not generally vote for a man in a wheelchair. If he were to appear on television, he might not seem as strong as the voters wish for a person to lead our country. Fast forward to the 1960’s, it can be claimed Nixon lost the presidential election to John F. Kennedy because he lost the television debate; Nixon looked pale and was sweating profusely. Nixon’s poor presentation of himself resulted in a significant impact on the voters and their decision in the voting booth. The way candidates run their election campaign is critical to their chances at winning presidency.
Campaign advertisements can be effective in a vast range of approaches in persuading the voters. Ads can be positive or negative, emotional, and in close elections attacks toward the opponent. Typical ads contain patriotism and broad appeal. However, sometimes ads will reach out to a specific audience. In negative advertisements, the purpose is to strengthen the candidate’s base of voters or change the mind of their opponent’s voters by evoking fear or disgust. These ads usually include false claims, personal attacks, and influencing the voters that they’re the better candidate.
Although most video advertisements on television are only thirty seconds or more, they have the ability of manipulating the audience’s votes very craftily. The emotion seen through advertisements can be produced through the problems of the people: unemployment, lack of healthcare, prescription costs, current issues, and many more personal-leveled concerns. A prime example of an emotional ad is the famous Lyndon B. Johnson television advertisement. Due to its effectiveness, his campaign staff only aired it once. The sixty-second video begins with an innocent little girl plucking daisy pedals in a field. It takes a sudden shift to nuclear bomb explosions in the background and LBJ declares, “These are the stakes, now make a world in which all of God’s children can live or go in the dark. We must love each other or die.” This campaign for the 1964 election effectively displays the amount of emotion used in campaign ads to manipulate, to influence, and to gain the votes of the people.
If most ads are made in angst to influence and persuade voters, then how does the average voter know if political ads are false or misleading? The emotional appeal of the commercials may manipulate the voter into believing claims that may or may not be true, and therefore gain their vote. Campaign advertisements have altered the way in which political elections are configured. Over time, campaign commercials and the presentation of each candidate have become critical to their presidential election. In class, we learned the specific details of campaign commercials and that the candidates presentation is the end all be all to their chances of election. Through the class work and activities, I have realized the amount of manipulation and persuasion each candidate uses in order to influence the citizens in the voting booths.