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Everything You Need to Know About 21st Century Politics

3 October 2014

September 7 was the 50 year anniversary of the airing of the most notorious attack ad in history. 'Daisy,' a political commercial promoting eventual President, Lyndon B. Johnson, showed a little girl picking daisies, at peace, and happy. All of a sudden, a nuclear explosion fills the screen, changing everything. The commercial ends with a call to action: “Vote for Lyndon B. Johnson.”

Politicians have discovered it is not only cheaper but easier to manipulate voters emotionally rather than informing them intellectually. Since politics has become a dollars race, whoever raises the most money will win. Platforms, competence, and ideas have taken a back seat to attack ads and courage-less politicians.

A looming question has arisen: do citizens of the United States want to be informed intellectually?

According to a Gallup poll, 19% of citizens trust government just about always or most of the time; 81% trust Washington only some of the time or never. That is why trustworthiness and non-partisanship are so important to changing the political landscape. Since the internet boom, it has been increasingly easy to reach a large number of voters. Political information resources have exploded online with the likes of, and, etc. These organizations believe the only way to overcome emotional voting is to provide non-partisan, factual information on candidates, but most importantly, to be a source that is trustworthy, and reliable.

This election season, attack ads will continue to be a force in the political marketplace and they grow evermore nasty with time. Today, politicians hire consultant firms that are attack ad specialists. These specialists conduct opposition research and play on anything they can to make the opponent seem not worthy of office. Organizations that attempt to get politicians to take a stance and provide their position on issues have found it increasingly difficult to do so. Only 38% of politicians will answer questionnaires telling the populace where they stand compared to 72% in the mid-nineties, according to Vote Smart data. The reasoning: politicians don't want to expose themselves to more attack ads.

Organizations that are trying to create change simply cannot compete in today's dollar driven political marketplace. As a result, campaigns can pay for TV, radio, and internet ads, as well as staff social media gurus and Google ad-words specialists, hire consultants, and (inadvertently) out-compete those trying to bring clarity to politics. The attack ad machine is roaring, and the only thing standing in its way is the human capitol, and have cultivated over decades of work. 

- Jamieson Bates, Director of Research at Vote Smart 

Related tags: 2014-election, blog, elections

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