Point for Discussion:
It’s that time in the political process for midterm elections. With this comes the midterm political attack ads. PACs and other political groups spend millions of dollars to take down their opponents rather than build up their candidates. Is it because there isn’t enough good to say about their candidates’ leadership that they have to criticize their opponents and misrepresent them? Enough already!
Our Point of View:
it’s not just me that sees more and more political ads and that these ads are becoming more and more extreme. In researching for my post today, I learned that there is debate about the effectiveness of these types of negative and misrepresentative attack ads and the percent of voters who are influenced by them. This is a concern because these ads may be all they hear about a candidate before casting their ballots.
With busy lives, people don’t have the time to deeply investigate the candidates in terms of who they are, what they stand for, and their voting records. As a result, we all get soundbites, many of which are ads from their opponents twisting the facts to tell their story. For example:
- An ad that says that a candidate voted for a provocative, inhumane point, when it fact, it was likely a partisan vote by Congress as a whole.
- An ad saying that a candidate allows pedophiles to take pictures of kids while they are in the school yard, when this may just be stating a fact of law that registered sex offenders must stay at least 1,000 feet away from kids.
As the midterms get closer, the number of ads and the negative messages are increasing to a point, like usual, where we can’t wait until the election is over. Shouldn’t candidates tell us why we should vote for them rather than telling us why we shouldn’t vote for their opponent? It would certainly help me make a better choice.
About that – our choices also appear to be limited, and are often the “better of 2 evils.” With ads and candidates themselves seeming more at the extreme ends, whether Republican or Democrat, I believe that it’s about time for some middle ground. And it’s about time the middle ground candidates (whether Independent, Libertarian, or no party at all) get some support.
Ultimately, it’s about time that we choose a great leader rather than a party or their “best electable” candidate (neither of whom have been clear on their platforms) or a financially supported candidate.
With social media use and influence at a high point, couldn’t a non-Republican or non-Democrat get sufficient support and get elected without requiring so much money or backing by a PAC? Social media by the people and for the people can actually be more powerful than money!
Maybe in the shorter term, since this year’s midterms are just around the corner, groups could utilize GoFundMe or crowdsourcing to support their local independent candidates who appear to be great leaders, but don’t have the financial backing to get their voices heard! It’s up to us to support representatives that we can be proud of and who will stand up to lead our great Country.
Here we are in another election season listening to sound bites, AKA political ads, designed to encourage us to vote for one candidate over another. It’s the most dreaded time in the election cycle for most of us. Thank goodness for DVRs. At least I can fast forward through most of them!
If I do happen to catch them, they focus on one issue or sentence, taken completely out of context and spun. You almost have to be a lawyer to fully understand what you’re hearing. For example, in my state, there is a female candidate running for Attorney General. The ad implies that she has acted as defense counsel for men on trial for alleged sex crimes of some sort. These days, that could easily influence some citizens, only half listening, to vote for the other candidate. What the commercial actually says is that she worked for a firm where some attorneys defended these alleged offenders. It does not say that she did.
We should not have to be lawyers or highly educated to parse statements to determine what is true and what is spun. But, in 2018, that is what we have to do in order to elect the right person. After all, we don’t need another bad election outcome.
I am aware that many of my fellow citizens are very busy and don’t have time to thoroughly research all candidates or issues, and they rely on political advertisements to make their choices. Unfortunately, these ads are generally skewed to one side or the other, and present only the information (I won’t call them facts because I don’t believe they are facts) that will move the needle in getting your vote. As citizens, possessing the privilege of being able to make our voices heard, we need to educate ourselves and make our own decisions about who the best candidate may be.
So what can we do if we don’t have enough time to do our own research to verify or refute what we hear in sound bites? I believe it’s our duty to educate ourselves. We have so much information at our fingertips these days. It behooves us to learn as much as we can before we vote. How do we know who to trust? There’s the tough part. In the last election, as we know now, there was so much false information spread and relied upon by voters. If we had dug deeper, we would have realized that is was blatantly false. For every bit of seemingly “true” information, there was a treasure trove of actual fact available that would contradict the information, if only we took the 5 minutes necessary to do a quick internet search on the subject.
Before you get potentially misled by a skewed political misrepresentation ad, do a bit of fact checking to determine what is true or false.
What if, after all that, we still make a bad decision because we only have two, not very good, choices? I’ve been struggling with this for decades. I do not believe that 2 ideologies can capture the hearts and minds of 380 million people. And quite often, not mine. Our political system is based on a two party system. The Federal government matches funds raised for the two major political parties, but no others, making it an uphill challenge to get on the ballot in all states. Many other developed nations are not limited to just two ideologies. There are several parties, represented by many candidates and platforms to choose from. If we had a more expansive system here in the USA, we might not end up with one party blocking the other from getting anything done.
According to my husband, I have been wasting my vote for years. If I believe that neither of the major party candidates supports my hopes and dreams for the America I want to live in, I select the best third party candidate. Do I understand this really makes no difference and the candidate won’t get elected? Of course I do, but I have hope that someday it could be different. I think back to the year that H. Ross Perot ran as an independent. He captured almost 20 million votes, mine included. That should have sent a message to Washington, DC that Americans wanted better choices. Instead, it fell on deaf ears.
So how do we make a difference? We vote our conscience. We protest the current system. At some point, if we protest enough (peacefully of course), our voices will be heard. Then we can effect the change we need. A change that will support Congress legislating what’s best for all of us not just their special interest PACs that get them re-elected.
In the short-term, we need to exercise our privilege in a responsible manner. We have a say in the direction of the country through our vote. We need to do our homework to make the right decision. There is no way around this. Remember, you can’t believe everything you hear.
Our Question for you:
How do you think the current political party system could be improved (and funded) to support the best leaders?