Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Mom offers advice on negative political ads

With local TV following every nanosecond of the President's visit to Portland, and the Giants and the Phillies locked in a tight playoff game on the screen, tonight I found myself logging an inordinate amount of tube time.

It's pretty scary because in between the president and the boys of October, the screen space was papered with wall-to-wall political ads, nearly all of them mean-spirited and toxic.

The impression these negative ads leave is that no matter whom you vote for, you are playing a fool's game. The result is certain disaster. Congress will be inhabited by miserable, thieving degenerate louts — be they Republicans or Democrats.

The message: the situation is utterly hopeless.

I wonder whether anyone has ever stood back and looked at the media mud slinging and realized that the effect is to tear down our system of governance.

No wonder folks are angry. From the looks of things, they should be. The ads are almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Perhaps we deserve this. Something is seriously wrong when political mud-wrestling passes as civic discourse. And of course the media, which sell ad space at grossly inflated prices (thereby creating political dependency on big-money interests), are laughing all the way to the bank.

Ask yourself, who are the winners here?

Certainly not the public.

My Mother, bless her soul, used to say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." If only the politicians and their media advisers would listen to Mom's quaint advice.

As for those of us on the receiving end of this sludge, we might follow the corollary: "If you can't hear or see anything nice in the media, turn it off."

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Anonymous Kathy Barnhart said...

Hi Rick,
I just bookmarked your blog and am glad to have your solid writing and good thoughts on my radar a little more consistently.

One solution to watching negative ads is, as you say, to turn off the t.v.. That still leaves most people watching, and I agree that the ads are really destructive.

But I don't know if I would subscribe to our mom's advice, which left us unable to express our full range of feelings. We would like the politicians, though, to rise above the feelings and offer us some real solutions to the many problems we have, to courageously lead with vision rather than sinking to mind-numbing mud-slinging, which is so easy to do by comparison. Take care, Kathy

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Walter Money said...

Hi, Rick,
I feel for what you see happening in the political arena. In the past, I refused to vote because I felt it interfered with my ability to pray for the elected parties. No longer. Prayer isn't hampered by voting, only by ignoring the urge to pray.

And my father used to tell me "If you can't say something nice about someone, you aren't looking hard enough. Even your enemies have virtues. Find those virtues, relate to them, and those people are no longer your enemies."

I agree that the media is being used by opposing forces, and willfully so. Since we want to have our elected officials make concrete suggestions that change the course of our country, shouldn't we do the same? How would you harness the media? I certainly trust your input here. Finding the balance between censorship and good manners really should not be that difficult, unless good manners are not longer politically viable. How, then, if that is the case, can we legislate appropriate behavior during the election process? I may have some ideas on the subject, and would be willing to share. Is there interest in this type of growth as a nation? I sense that the media wants to sell the conflict, the candidates want to get elected, and the voters want to watch the ballgame.

Walter Money

11:04 AM  

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