Friday, January 11, 2008

And the Winner is

The United States has the longest selection process for its president of any country in the world. And probably the most expensive. And yet picking our leader is not much different than picking our laundry detergents. Except if we don't like the brand of detergent we are not stuck with it for four years.

The most expensive part of any political campaign is the media buys. Giuliani just asked his head campaign workers to work for free for a month or to so he can buy more commercial time in Florida. Bit odds are that these expensive ads will not educate us about why he will be a better president but why his competition won't be.

The negativity of campaign advertising sets us up for voting for the last of two evils because we know only the most negative things about the candidates due to the competing commercials.

This presidential election we have had the opportunity to view all the primary candidates in a variety of debate formats and ergo get to know how well they have memorized the answers and the phrasing of those answers as determined by their speech writers. All we can truly say about them is they are well rehearsed and well made up. Since the debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy no campaign is unaware of the importance of image on the little screen. I frankly would love to see one of them wearing a green or purple tie. I am rather tired of red or blue. But just like some marketing company figured out the color for Tide's packaging they figured out the correct color for the tie.

In the final days we will be bombarded with television commercials and not all of them complied by the candidate and his campaign. Some of the most negative will be by PAC's or political action committees wanting to get their candidate elected so they can continue to have tax breaks, price supports or favorable legislation in the future. Because of the high price of media campaigns most candidates and their political positions are bought and paid for before they take office.

What if we made it illegal for them to run television ads. Or any political committee to run commercials for them or against their opposition? All exposure to the candidate would have to be through interviews, debates, personal appearances and positive (not negative) newspaper ads.

Campaigns would be cheaper. We would actually have an opportunity to really get to know the candidates. Abraham Lincoln won his support for president with a whistle stop campaign waged from the back of a train. With today's political situation he could not get by the primary: not enough money, sloppy dresser, and definitely not a good looker. Sad commentary. Instead we get a George W. Bush - nicely packaged up by an advertising company to look like what it wasn't.

The President of the United States brought to you by those wonderful men of Madison Avenue. The same one that brought you feminine deodorant and the New Coke. Real winners.