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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Negative Political Advertising - Like Snowballs on a July Summer Day

Although July is typically America's vacation month, the negative ads loaded with lies follow us. They're cast about like snowballs in July, hoping at least one will hit like a bulls eye.  

Social media spreads these lies into cyberspace with lightning speed, where there's no telling if they will, either, melt or snowball into an avalanche.

It doesn't matter where you are, in July's sweltering 100 degree heat covering much of the USA or among the tragic victims of the horrid forest fires in the West, or the more weather fortunate in the Northeast enjoying a glorious summer respite. While the Romney family with Mitt and Ann take a lovely vacation at their Lake Winnipesaukee home in Wolfboro NH, the negative ads, paid for by anonymous political action committees, are where ever you happen to be, in pain, heat or having fun.

All Americans are exposed to negative ads loaded with lies, because the Supreme Court allows for lying under the freedom of speech rights, with the Citizens United ruling. Psychologists claim negative advertising works because our human brains are wired to be skeptical, a genetic survival technique.  But this doesn't explain why human brains continue to believe lies after they are exposed and the truths told.

Truth One-     President Obama is an American born in Hawaii
Truth Two-    President Obama is a Christian
Truth Three-  President Obama will be spending July 4th in the USA and NOT in France
"Here’s a fun question to ask about the Republicans who spent the weekend spreading lies that Barack Obama was going to spend Independence Day raising campaign cash in Paris: Are they dumb, or evil?Me, I’m betting on both", writes Joel Mathis.

Republicans like Karl Rove and other strategists reach for any lie that sticks. Recalling past campaigns, like when a negative story about low life prisoner Willie Horton, notorious more by an attack ad than for his criminal acts, effectively defeated Governor Dukakis and won George Bush's presidency.  Negative ad experts relish the lie they created about Navy hero, Senator John Kerry, claiming he didn't really earn military medals in Vietnam, in the Swift Boat incident.  "Swift boating" is symbolic of how negative ads become truth if they aren't rebutted in the same news cycle when they're created. 

Of course, negative campaign advertising will always be with us. Nevertheless, our speed of light social networks spread negative myths so quickly that truth doesn't get into the public domain as fast as the lie it follows.  Moreover, there's no legal rebuttal for the politically motivated lies because Citizens United says it's okay under the Constitution's freedom of speech rights.

So how do we melt attack ads loaded with lies before they snowball out of control? 

Unfortunately, rebuking negative ads can be accomplished with an unbelievable amount of money.  Negative ads must be melted down in real time or they stick like snowballs to a telephone poll.  This is expensive.

So, while our nation's economy continues to struggle toward recovery, while people continue to be unemployed because Republicans aren't spending capital investing in jobs, while people on Medicaid see their food stamp benefits trimmed - political strategists continue to spend money on negative ads like there's no tomorrow. They're throwing snowballs weighted with negativity into hot July days with the hopes one of their icy creations will survive the heat and win the election for right wing candidates.  

Hopefully, Americans will eventually gasp "enough!" and pass meaningful campaign reform. Until then, we must diligently fight back when we are deluged with lies created for political purposes.

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