American political campaigns have reached a new low with the unveiling of an Obama Ad that reads: “JOIN PET LOVERS FOR OBAMA – Are You In?” As if the fact that Obama likes pets will help put Americans back to work, defuse Iran’s Nuclear ambitions or solve America’s 16 trillion dollar deficit. Click the link in the ad and you will be greeted by the following copy,” When we’ve shared photos of Bo over the last few months, we’ve learned two things. One, there are a lot of First Dog fans out there. Two, there is an enthusiasm for this campaign that extends to the furriest members of your families. That’s why we’ve launched Pet Lovers for Obama, a special way for pet lovers like you to be a part of this campaign. Say you—and your pets—are in for 2012 now.” Then, of course, you are asked to send money.
What is Mr. Obama trying to tell the voters? That he thinks their pets should influence their choice or does he think that pets should have a right to vote? After all, one of his “Czars” wanted to pass a law giving pets the right to sue in court. Or is Obama simply trying to tug at the heart strings of voters by implying he is a great guy because he has a dog, therefore he deserves another four years?
Now folks, this is not intended to be a one sided, attack on Obama as a human being or as a President. I am using Obama as an example because the Republican candidates so busy ripping each other to shreds they haven’t had any spare time to come up with something this wonky. Of course, knowing the Republicans, they still have plenty of time to join in the fun and come up with their own version of “Vote For Me Because I am Cool And My Dog Is Cute.”
What I am objecting to is the fact that both parties, and just about everyone who runs for National office, treats the voters like test subjects for a Madison Avenue Ad Campaign. The candidates and their advisers seem to be convinced that very few voters care about what the candidate believes in or what his or her policies will be if they are elected. They don’t think it matters to the voters where the candidate came from, what their background is or how much experience they have had in government. They act on the assumption that the voters don’t have the interest or the patience to investigate or question anyone who is running for what is the most important political office in, perhaps, the world. American Presidential elections are becoming nothing more than political beauty pageants.
It’s all about Image, Image, Image. Looks, sex appeal, the cool factor, fashionable clothing, perfect grooming. It all matters more than who the candidate is or what their ideas are for the country. Joe McGinness laid it all out in his remarkable and frightening book, “The Selling of the President 1968″, which details the “marketing” of Nixon in his successful 1968 run for the White House. McGinness said the idea for the book came to him after a conversation on a train. “A fellow commuter had just landed the Hubert Humphrey account and was boasting that ‘in six weeks we’ll have him looking better than Abraham Lincoln.”"
The difference between 1968 and the Obama era is the incredible variety of new ways that a candidate can reach out to a voter and the massive amount of easily accessible, sophisticated technology that is now available to deliver their message. Obama, in particular, revolutionized the way campaigns are run, with his highly effective use of the internet and email. Obama tapped into “Social Media” like Twitter and Facebook and as a result, he reached millions of younger voters who might not have even voted otherwise. He Tweeted his way to the White House on the slogan of “Hope and Change and according to his own Communications Director, Anita Dunn, “Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control.”
Of course, there is another side to this coin. While the candidate avoids discussing anything of substance concerning their own campaign, it is more often than not, highly desirable to attack and belittle one’s opponent in as much detail as possible. While there has always been a certain amount of trash talking in politics, the last few elections have seen smear tactics taken to a new level of viciousness. This is especially the case when an incumbent is not doing well. When a candidate can no longer run on their record or their achievements in office, they turn to trying to portray their opponent as the worst thing that ever walked the face of the earth. Then they throw a few insults, some sarcasm and several belittling comments into the mix for good measure.
Many Presidential candidates are quick to forget that the President is elected to represent all Americans and voters are further dehumanized by being broken down into demographic groups by race, religion, age, gender and sexual preference. Ads and slogans are carefully crafted for each group. Commercials, billboards, newspaper ads and magazine ads are placed according to which ad will appeal to which group. We are no longer Americans. We are Italian-American or African-Americans or Chinese-Americans or Mexican-Americans or Jewish-Americans. Tactics that serve to further divide an already divided nation.
American voters deserve better from candidates running for political office. Our future is being decided by style instead of substance. Candidates are “groomed” to appeal to the voters. They have “handlers” who guide their every step and rehearse every word that comes out of the candidate’s mouth. Sound bites and photo ops are more important than a speech that explains the candidates policies and his or her plans for the nation. The political elite, from both sides of the aisle, who are running this country into the ground, think we are too unintelligent to understand political and social issues.
It is time for American voters to wake up and demand that politicians treat us with respect. We must insist that candidates clearly spell out their policies and hold them accountable for broken promises and failed programs. We have the right to ask questions of candidates and get real honest, answers, not smarmy, condescending sound bites in reply.
Our world is on the brink. Our nation is near financial ruin. The voters need to know what each candidate is going to do so we can put food on ours tables, gas in our tanks, pay our bills, heal our ills and make sure our kids get a real education. We need candidates who are proud of their life story and their accomplishments and have no desire to hide the details in sealed files protected by expensive lawyers. We need candidates who value our opinions and respect our intelligence.
When a candidate asks your for your vote, don’t be fooled by a slick commercial, clever one liners and the same old political cliches. Ask the tough questions and demand answers. Vote for a candidate who is honest, ethical and has real principals. A candidate of character and accomplishment who is proud of this nation and proud of all Americans. A candidate who wants to see America prosper, not let our mountain of debt continue to grow until bread is $10,000 a loaf and our nation is in chaos.
There is nothing more sacred and important in our political system than our right to vote. It is a right and it is also a privilege. A privilege that was paid for in the blood of patriots, many of whom died in distant lands because they believed in this nation and it’s principals. They fought so you would have the right to vote for the leader of our great nation in a free and open election. Most people on this planet will never know the privilege of voting for a person of their own choosing in an legitimate, honest election. You still have that privilege so please, don’t spend it lightly or toss it away thoughtlessly. Treasure your vote. Respect your vote and protect it with every fiber of your being. Make the person you vote for earn your vote honestly. Our nation’s future may depend on it. Don’t vote for “BO THE DOG.”