No. This blog is not about Tiger’s or Jesse James’ text messages or the romantic back and forth between John Edwards and his person. It is about slime campaign messaging. Democratic interest groups are branching out into the avatar realm to attack rival candidates. Leading the way are venomous ads targeting Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor of California. See the NYTimes article, and be disgusted. The Times showcases an ad where Ms. Whitman is unmistakably portrayed as an avatar persona, “her lips peeled back from thick gums, [which] virtually snorts.” So much for a contest based on ideas or platform. It’s a deep dive to the lowest common denominator.
Such relatively low cost, technology-created ads will be all the rage, no doubt. They may not be effective on television, though that remains to be tested. They are perfectly suited for YouTube and Facebook.
The Times writer says that such an approach can be risky, “because slime sent flying from the interest groups can end up sticking to the candidate it was intended to help.” I don’t know. The work resonates with way too many people for whom trash talk is credible. Perhaps the work is riskier because it will be effective, and voters will continue to decide their ballot choices based on crudeness and rudeness. Is it too early in the election season to start sighing about the truism that a populace gets the government it deserves?
Let’s say no to these influences. Refuse to forward trash messaging. If someone talks approvingly about such trash, probe as to what that person finds appealing, and guide them to higher ground. That is, engage that person on the issues and concerns that demand intelligent problem solving from our elected officials. We’ll be polite, of course.
It is particularly sad that this new low in campaign communication comes to light on the same weekend that our fellow citizens attacked Senator Barney Frank with gay epithets, and several African American representatives were assaulted with racial slurs. Where is the universal condemnation of this appalling behavior? Where are the conservative voices? Is this who they want to be…the company they want to keep?
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