As the Iowa caucus looms and the candidates hurtle towards New Hampshire Democratic primary deadline, Bernie Sanders, the Vermont “upstart” candidate whose sudden surges in the polls show he may not be such a long-shot anymore, released an ad that hearkens back to a better time and has many potential voters admitting that it tugs at the heart.
The powerful ad, titled, simply, America, had many discussing why it was so powerful.
“This is the first ad (from any candidate) that gave me chills in a good way.”
“That has some serious throwback appeal.”
“Those were days when it didn’t cost much to just get on a bus with your SO and just set out to explore. Everybody was trying to ‘find themselves’ as they grew up.”
“I really did get chills and I started to well up. Not being hyperbolic, that was so simple and elegant. No attacks just people. The American people.”
Regardless of political background, the ad is nearly impossible to watch without feeling that tug at your heart, and, as the Washington Post reports, it’s “rare for a political ad to evoke such universal emotions. But it’s power is in its universality.”
The ad itself consists of images of ever day Americans doing every day American things, Americans both urban and rural, farming and working, drinking coffee and eating family dinners at the table, bucking hay, and attending rallies. And all of this is set to Paul Simon’s “(All Come To Look For) America,” a powerful song that comes from what may have been one of the most unsettled times in the United States.
The ad’s universal appeal works because it unabashedly taps into an incredibly powerful human sentiment: That of nostalgia. The ad highlights longing for the return of simpler, better times and reminds viewers that, regardless of political leanings, everyone wants what is best for America.
Modern research shows that nostalgia provides comfort, and, as English psychology professor Constantine Sedikides, who studies the impacts of nostalgia, says, the mental state of nostalgia is the “perfect internal politician, connecting the past with the present, pointing optimistically to the future” and “absolutely central to human experience.”
The nostalgic feel of Bernie Sanders’ ad, which is, merely weeks away from primaries, essentially his closing argument to voters, captures a lot of the same “hope and change” sentiment that capitulated Barack Obama into a stunning victory in 2008. The ad is also unique in that it relies on images to convey the message.
There is no more mention of rising inequality, no attacks on the billionaire class, no pitches on getting big money out of the political process and breaking up the big banks. WashingtonPost reporter Colby Itkowitz highlights how the ad relies on imagery to convey Sanders’ powerful closing message.
“There are images of Iowa farms, the New Hampshire seacoast, coffee shops, kitchen tables and thousands and thousands of inspired Bernie Sanders supporters, in intimate settings and at the large-scale rallies that have come to define his campaign.”
“The new 60-second television spot reaches its crescendo as Simon & Garfunkel sing ‘they’ve all come to look for America’ while an expanding grid of people who’ve all come to see Sanders flashes on the screen.”
In fact, the only spoken words are at the end, when Bernie Sanders, in his characteristic Brooklyn accent, says that he approves of the message.
And, considering the number of views the ad has received, along with the positive buzz his ad has created, as well as his surging popularity in the polls, it seems as though many in America approve of his message, as well.
Watch the ad below and tell us — what do you think?
For more on Bernie Sanders, click here to read why some believe that a Bernie Sanders’ presidency is inevitable.
[Image credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images]