Ads will have role in elections this year

By David Moody

May 6, 2014

You walk in after a long day at work, have a nice meal, turn on your television and realize it’s that time again, but thank goodness it’s only midterms. No, not exams, but elections and that means political advertisements, one of the biggest pariahs to hit the political landscape of America since the Red Scare of the 1950’s.

Normally this wouldn’t be such an issue as midterm elections tend to draw little, if any, attention. It’s the national offices that will garner more attention, but the ballots of 2014 are going to have an unbelievable effect on the 2016 campaign season, none of which has anything to do with public policy, legislation, or improving any of the social ills our country is falling prey to.

No, the importance of this particular election will be the ads themselves.

For years Congress has been talking campaign reform as a tonic to voters, assuming as long as they’re discussing it those who bother to vote will be satisfied. Things are different now, thanks to the Supreme Court.

Campaigns are going to become unruly behemoths fueled and funded by PACs, SuperPACs, committees, and any other number of nameless entities which bear no responsibility since the highest court saw fit to grant human status to corporations when it comes to donations to political campaigns. Now the sky is the limit and the coffers will be flowing with donations given in expectation of consideration down the road.

This election is going to be about the content of advertising as all of these third parties fund, produce and back ads to sway voters, with most being completely unfounded in their accusations and assertions. According to the law, as long as whoever signed the check puts their organization’s name on the ad, it’s OK, giving insulation to the candidates being backed. Who would cut their own throat in an election, even if the message being delivered is without any foundation whatsoever?

In 2012’s presidential election there was somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million spent campaigning for a $400,000 per year job. Most of those funds went into advertising fraught with hot button issues and mudslinging.

Now that the money issue is muddier than ever, the envelope on what the public is willing to stomach to gain political power is going to be tested. If you would like to enjoy 2016 without being pummeled by what has become an embarrassment to the candidates and the voters, now is the time to act.

Question assertions made in ads, ask questions, and above all else, draw a line of tolerance and expectation and be unwilling to back away.