They’re all the same and fall under one of these types:
1. The family endorsement, which is particularly grating, not to mention unconvincing. So, you get your sister (or your wife or your dog) to vouch for you, to say you’re a good guy. Big deal. Why is that even a consideration? It’d be pretty sad if your own family didn’t support you.
2. The rhetorical question, dripping with sarcasm. “Did you really think no one would find out?”
3. The dramatic background music, ominous when referring to the opponent, which shifts dramatically to light, tinkling piano when the ad turns to the endorsing candidate. With no transition between the doom (if you elect the other guy) and hope (me me me).
4. The one where the candidate is shown in a factory or school, surrounded by a group of supporters all nodding in sync—and nodding more enthusiastically than you’ve ever seen anyone nod.
5. The dramatization, in which a husband and wife speak about their worries of the future and how a certain candidate in office would mark the end of civilization. Or when one woman calls another woman who calls another woman to share their concerns on women’s issues, as if all women automatically agree with one another.
6. The ones that pair footage of tragedies with the policies of a candidate.
7. The innuendo ad, in which “politician” is a dirty word. Aren’t all elected officials politicians? And if these politicians have been in office for a long time, the ads equate longevity with corruption. Can’t 30 years in office simply imply sincere commitment?
8. The leisurely ads that discuss the other candidate’s attack ads, while ignoring the ones that they’ve aired and endorsed.
9. The newspaper quotes, some of which are accurate, but mostly taken out of context.
I have a few proposals. Let’s stop all these ads. Instead, networks can grant each side a block of time to lay out its argument. If networks need to break up this block with commercials for soap or soda, I’m okay with that. It’s not like this will make the process any less dignified than it already is.
Under the present system, how much time do elected officials actually devote to raising money? (Devote, as in devotion.) Quite a lot, if the frequency of television ads is any indication. If politicians didn’t have to devote all this time stockpiling cash to get elected, maybe they could actually govern and get something done.
Or maybe there’s some middle ground. Since politicians are so adept at raising money, let them keep scrounging and then broadcasting their petty ads, but at least half of all the money they raise must be earmarked for city services or bridge repairs or donated to a food pantry—or something other than promoting and tearing down candidates.
Or let’s try this: the frequency of the ads must decrease proportionally to the frequency of early voting. That would have driven me to the polls weeks ago.