The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself … And These Ridiculous Political Ads

President Obama has officially been “Goldwatered.”  In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ran an ad called Daisy that linked Republican Nominee Barry Goldwater’s policies to nuclear apocalypse.  The ad did not explain or enumerate these polices.  Nevertheless, the ad ended with a mushroom cloud of nuclear destruction shown in the eye of a little girl counting the pedals of a daisy.  It ran only once, but changed the way political ads worked forever.  From that point forward, no dark, vague, apocalyptic vision was too harsh to baselessly tie to an opponent without explanation.

Rick Santorum is the latest politician to resort to this morally challenged tactic.  Santorum has recently started running an ad that shows that in two years, if Obama is re-elected, our society will have broken down into a dark, dystopian tragedy that is one step away from having teenagers hunting each other for survival at the pleasure of the administration.  It offers no explanation for how Obama’s policies will lead to any of these tragedies — it just asserts that they will.   Watch it here:

 

 

Rick Santorum is not the first candidate to resort to these sorts of ads.  Democrats and Republicans, alike, have chosen to demonize and vilify their opponents by using disturbing images to link them to cataclysmic consequences without establishing any causality between their opponent’s policies and the dreadful result depicted.  Regardless of party affiliation, the tactic is crass and morally questionable because it indicates that a Candidate is willing to win by any means necessary — even by stirring up fear in voters to gain an advantage.

The truth is, Santorum does not need to resort to these fear tactics to draw a clear distinction between himself and President Obama.  They appear to disagree on practically everything.  They have two distinct visions for America.  There is no reason to resort to disturbing images of nuclear threat, abject poverty and little blond girls being despondent to drive the point home.  (Sidenote: why is it that little blond girls are so often portrayed as creepy, sad figures in movies and advertising?  I think we all should watch the Disney Classic, Pollyanna, as therapy.)

The Santorum ad calls itself “a cautionary tale” — and with that, I agree.   It is a cautionary tale of how fragile and frail the concept of a civil, rational discussion of issues is in American Politics.

Slate.com compiles a list of these apocalyptic ads that is both fascinating and disturbing.  I highly recommend that you watch them all.  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/03/campaign_ads_a_slide_show_of_the_best_dystopian_campaign_spots_of_the_last_50_years_.html

About David Davies, Editor-in-Chief

David Davies is the Editor-in-Chief of Media Rostra. He is also a lawyer and a licensed minister, so he is basically distrusted by everyone on some level. He received his Political Science degree from the University of Tulsa and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas. He is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arkansas, a former "good athlete for his size," and current owner of The Law Offices of David Davies, PLLC -- an Estate Planning and Elder Law firm that has offices in Arkansas and Tennessee. He co-authored, with fellow editor, Aaron Brooks, the article entitled: “Exploring Student-Athlete Compensation: Why the NCAA Cannot Afford to Leave Athletes Uncompensated," in the University of Notre Dame’s Journal of College and University Law.

Comments

  1. malconbassNo Gravatar says:

    We had samething here in Brazil. Different parties demonizing each other to gain an advantage. Most impressive example happens 10 years ago against the biggest party, called: PT (partido do trabalhador), Workers Party in english. (party of our president Dilma). The number of this party is 13. So, you Can imagine what happened. And now I ask where is racional discussiOn to establish whos best choice to represent people in a political circle?

  2. Great article. I will say this for sure- there is more attention to art direction and expression of symbolism in this commercial than there was in the hunger games.  This is just one or two funny lines away from being on SNL though. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would take this seriously. Sometimes I wonder if both sides don’t have double agent candidates (like Santorum in this case) working secretly for the other side. Keep up the good work man.