By Brett Berry
Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, September 20, 2004
Isn't it funny how all these political ads getting so much play in the media are from a couple of groups who, judging by their names, really are "for truth?"
Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth. The ads created by these "truth" groups are so far beyond the realm of honesty and reality that any attempt to label these groups as truthful is laughable.
But sadly, these types of "independent" groups aren't alone in their quest to alienate every American citizen from the political process with such an unrelenting disregard for the truth in advertisements. Our politicians themselves have proven quite adept at using their own ads to resort to cheap manipulations, to distort reality, and to flat-out lie.
American political elections have become no-holds-barred mudslinging events where each side spends all of their time sniping the other's character instead of talking about what's really important: the issues.
Instead of talking to the people about the important problems and policies that affect us all, we are subject to a ridiculous back and forth, forced to listen to asinine arguments like which candidate is "more French."
It is this pattern of attack and counterattack that has turned so many people off to politics. Most people only get to see the negative campaign ads attacking the other side day after day for months at a time. By the time Election Day comes, the typical voter has such a negative view of both candidates that they hate them. Then they're supposed to go vote for one of these guys?
No wonder the terms "presidential election" and "choosing the lesser of two evils" can so often be used interchangeably. The negative campaigning leaves us with a disaffected voting population.
So what can be done to fix this problem of negative advertising? It'd be easy to say to just ignore negative ads, but, unfortunately, studies have shown that they work (even when they are proven to be false claims). The only real solution is to abolish all political ads.
I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea - I even thought so, too, when I first heard Bill Maher suggest it - but the more you think about it, the more sense that it makes.
If all political ads were abolished, the American political landscape would be much purer. Instead of filling campaigns with flag-waving and attack ads, the issues could actually be discussed.
Just imagine it, if there were no political ads, a candidate could no longer imply falsities, promote half-truths, or manipulate the records of the opposing, defenseless candidate.
It would be impossible for campaigns to say one positive thing about the opposition and then use a guiding hand to allow other groups to say another thing in an attack.
Taking TV clips out of context could not be used to attack the opponent or promote the candidate. Wouldn't that be great?
If there were no ads of any kind, campaigns would no longer be measured by the size of their war chest for there would be no more expensive ad-buys for which to pay. Because of this, (hopefully) the politicians would be less beholden to their wealthy donors and corporate benefactors.
To those of you who fear that such an extreme measure like this would limit the voting population's ability to hear the truth about the candidates, don't worry.
There will be plenty of time to attack the other guy at those little things called debates. Only then, the person you're attacking is there to defend himself, so you can't keep making ridiculous claims.
Also, there's more than enough political pundits out there to spit enough venom out there to tarnish even the most heroic of Americans should they ever decide to run for office.
Candidates could still go around the country and give speeches to be covered by the media, and there are always press conferences.
For those of you who can't remember what these conferences are because we have them so rarely these days, they're these gatherings when people can question a leader without having the questions diverted or filtered by a presidential handler.
Now, this could be interpreted as an infringement on free speech. This argument has merit, as no one should be silenced in a free country. However, I'm sure that if someone has an opinion, they could find another way to voice it than by spending a few million dollars.
Besides, this is not without precedent. Tobacco companies aren't allowed to air TV ads because they can hurt American society in general, and they can have an adverse affect on the youth of America. So can these ads.
Brett Berry is a regional development junior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.