Political ads: the 21st century’s pay toilets

Those of you who reside in overwhelmingly blue states, or red states for that matter, may never realize how fortunate you are. You are shielded from the onslaught of political advertising that we more ideologically balanced states face every 2-4 years. In Vermont, where the two present US senators are bullet-proof, why would the Koch brothers waste their money? The situation is quite different here in New Hampshire. While Governor Hassan appears to be safe, the Senate and House seats are all too close to call. As a result, the Kochs and others of their ilk have dumped a huge amount of money in support of conservative candidates. Progressive leaning individuals have followed suit. All of this is much to the dismay of the residents here in the Granite State. As we suffer through all of this unwanted attention, I can’t help but ask “What’s it all about, Alfie?”  Why is all of this money being spent? Let’s take a closer look.

Axiom number one: political ads are (maybe) half truths.  As a person who has analyzed statistics throughout most of his adult life, I promise you the numbers being presented by both sides are filled with potholes. For example, when one ad tells you that Candidate A voted with the unpopular president 99 percent of the time, what does this say, and not say? As a member of the same party as the sitting president, OF COURSE Candidate A is committed to support the agenda of those who put her/him into office. If I supported the candidate in the first place, I’m probably wondering what happened to that lagging 1 percent. Then, there is that which goes unsaid by the other candidate’s ads. In truth, Candidate B was supportive of the president’s agenda 4 of every 5 votes. 

Axiom number two: after the first ten minutes of the campaign season, no one really paying attention to those ads. Not only are we not listening, in all likelihood, we haven’t even heard the ads. The less technologically savvy among us use the mute button during normal TV commercials, much less political ads. Among the growing populace of people who subscribe to DVRs and similar weapons of mass obstruction, the fast forward button is our best friend during political seasons. So, one is compelled to ask, why buy all of this air time?

This leads us to Common Sense question number 1: at a time during which we’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint, why are there no laws against roadside/lawn political signs?My dear friend Mari Hoell said it best the other day when she condemned the sign-planters for obscuring our beautiful views of foliage. Here in Plymouth, one sign for a newcomer named Garcia is the size of our family car. This is simply ridiculous! And, more to the point, what impact does any of this have? Can’t you just imagine the following dialogue(?):
         Mother:  I just can’t decide who I’m voting for in the congressional race.
         Father:   I was undecided, too, until I just saw the big beautiful Garcia sign along side the road. That convinced me to vote for her.
This is nearly as unthinkable as the recent idiotic statement by a Republican state legislator, who indicated that no one will vote for Congresswoman Kuster because (in his unbelievably stupid rhetoric), “she’s as ugly as sin.” One hopes that the aforementioned legislator soon will be visited by a pretty woman named Karma. 

All of this leads me to Common Sense question number 2:  if much of the civilized world can choose its leaders in a few months’ time, why does it take us 2 -4 years? One need only look north of the border to Canada, where elections take as little as 36 days (the max is 365 days). An even better question is: in a country that should be a model for others to emulate, why are people like the Kochs throwing money at political campaigns while millions lack sufficient social services and food bank shelves sit bare?

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