Friday, November 05, 2010

The Campaign is Over...for Now

Election day is behind us, at least for now. My mailbox now gets a rest from the daily stack of political advertisements. Too many of them do nothing but attack the opponent. Most fail "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" test. Virtual all reflect more on the resourcefulness of the ad agency than the actual ability of the candidate to do the job.

The billboards and the buttons are pretty, but do they really make the case for who can do the better job? Why do we spend so much money on something that has so little to do with ability?

As technology gets more sophisticated, the tactics grow in frequency and intrusiveness, which brings up the worst offenders...the "robocalls." I long ago lost count of how many times creative thought has been interrupted by a recording of little substance and sometimes even less truth. Enough is enough. The game is reminiscent of the "Spy versus Spy" spots in MAD Magazine during my childhood days.The strategies got more elaborate, yet in the end, somebody and somebody loses.

There are good uses of technology, and below is what I think is one of the best. The candidates made use of a technology that was still fairly new to political campaigns and a technology that had become common to most homes...the television. If you have never heard this debate in its entirety, the 50th anniversary of it is a good time to step back in time.



Kennedy v. Nixon was like Lincoln v. Douglas with one notable exception. The former could be viewed by an entire nation.

Why can't we use technology to get back to that? Let's put the candidates face-to-face on stage. If one starts to stray from the truth, the opponent stands right there to call the offender's hand. Let's use the power of technology to record those events and make them available as video posted on the websites of our daily newspapers. Some of that is being done, and it's a step in the right direction.

And let's give some of the other a rest. For sure, let's stop the robocalls, so that we can get some work done. Let's rethink the huge amounts of money spent on slick ads and instead focus of that which really speaks to the job someone will be able to do.

No single candidate is to blame for a system which has gotten out of hand. Every snowflake in the avalanche pleads "not guilty." When one candidate spends a mint on slicks ads, the other is pretty much forced to do likewise. When one starts the robo calls, the other must follow. When one plays loose with the truth, its tough for the other to still take the high road.

Maybe I am the only one who feels this way. But make no mistake...look at the worst of this campaign season, and left unchecked, it will be far worse the next time around two years from now. Let's take the idea of  Lincoln and Douglas, bring it to everyone like Kennedy and Nixon, and use the power of the Internet to make the face-to-face debate the bread and butter of the campaign.
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