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Guest Commentary

An in-kind response to campaign ads

9/24/2014

Taking the low road, but with thesaurus in hand, here are some thoughts about political advertising these days, with the venting tempered by a thoughtful ending. Still, how many more campaign ads can we take without worrying about the end of civic and civil life?

Enough already with political ads! Thank goodness for the mute button!

As a candidate, how many times are you going to repeat that ridiculous line? Has your lust for office left you with no sense of decency?

Does it trouble you that, if you win, you may have to associate with people who believed your ads and voted for you? Must give you sleepless nights.

Good for you: You have children; you love America. Bad for you: “…and I approve this message.”

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Is there no end to this garbage, baloney, twaddle, claptrap, drivel, trivia, gibberish, babble, hot air?

When it comes to the billions of dollars spent on campaign ads, do you realize how many children could be fed, how many kids better-educated, how many families better-housed, how many city infrastructures improved? Or maybe your focus is on how many dolts can be elected to legislatures and Congress.

Is there no end to this madness, idiocy, nonsense, absurdity, inanity, stupidity?

Where do you get these robots who speak on your behalf as though they are smug automatons, ready to be boxed up and crated away after election day until the next campaign when you can trot them out again with their mindless platitudes and irrelevant slogans?

How do you come up with all this stuff that is illogical, banal, incongruous, bizarre, weird, misleading, deceptive and deceitful?

Is there no end to the hatred, animosity, loathing, disgust, bitterness and distrust fostered by your ads?

If you’re elected or re-elected, how many hours will you have to unwind before starting to raise money for the next campaign? Meantime, ignore the public interest and civic virtue because you have to pay off contributors to your campaign who helped you bombard voters with your arrogance, pomposity, haughtiness, indignation and self-righteousness.

Is there no end to being dishonest, mendacious, devious, sneaky and underhanded?

Campaign ads call to mind the lament of the comic strip character Dilbert: “When did ignorance become a point of view?”

For a dramatic change in context, however, consider thoughts from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a martyr of the Nazis. Some 70 years later his commentary is relevant to the nature of so much of political campaign advertising and the dangers the ads pose:

“Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than malice. You can protect against malice, you can unmask it or prevent it by force. Malice always contains the seeds of its own destruction, for it always makes men uncomfortable, if nothing worse. There is no defense against folly. Neither protests nor force are of any avail against it, and it is never amendable to reason. If facts contradict personal prejudices, there is no need to believe them, and if they are undeniable, they can simply be pushed aside as exceptions. Thus the fool, as compared with the scoundrel, is invariably self-complacent. And he can easily become dangerous, for it does not take much to make him aggressive. Hence folly requires much more cautious handling than malice. We shall never again try to reason with the fool, for it is both useless and dangerous.”

strentz21Sadly, that does not lend itself to a campaign sound bite. CV

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview.

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