RUSH COUNTY – Now that the election appears to be over, a couple of points seem worth reviewing – not that either will make any difference next time around.
First, in all my life I have never seen such vicious attack ads paid for by more than one Political Action Committee (PAC). They’re easy to spot if anybody cares about spotting them. They are the ones that don’t say at the end, “I’m so-and-so and I approve this message.” That tag line has to be in the candidate’s own voice and in those precise words (except the candidate’s name has to be inserted instead of “so-and-so!”) If that approval line isn’t there, you know it’s an ad by some Political Action Committee.
PACs exist for one reason: to promote the candidacy of whoever its contributors prefer outside of the normal election laws regarding such things as the maximum amount of money that can be donated to one candidate or another. That’s how they can afford to put together such nasty ads and have them broadcast on all the networks. So, if the ad doesn’t have the approval of the candidate at the end you know it’s been paid for by a PAC and it’s going to be nasty and disgusting.
All sorts of research has been done that indicates that attack ads don’t work in terms of influencing the way people vote. I don’t believe that for a minute. I think they do work, especially with the undecided voters and especially the closer they are run to Election Day. I can give you a perfectly good example that illustrates the point in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. The race was between Democrat Christina Hale and Republican Victoria Spartz. Here’s what the Monday, Nov. 9 edition of the Indianapolis Star had to say about the race in an article written by Kaitlin Lange, “Outside groups spent more than $12 million to sway the 5th District election. Opponents of Hale spent almost $5.5 million using flyers and TV ads to claim Hale was tied to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was in cahoots with people who wanted to defund the police or go down the path of ‘Medicare for All.’” Spartz had to deal with attack ads as well, but those for the most part did not attempt to tie Spartz to the more far-right members of her party.” If you happened to see any of the ads for either candidate that were PAC ads, I think you’ll agree, regardless of your party affiliation, they were vicious and intentional distortions of reality.
There has also been an equal amount of research done to prove that attack ads actually have the reverse effect on voters; that attack ads turn voters away from the candidate they seek to promote. Especially among independents, a vicious attack ad against one candidate causes independents to vote for the other one! And yet, election after election we continue to see them, disgusting though they may be.
The other point that needs to be made about this election is that results don’t count nearly as much as likeability. Clearly, President Trump accomplished more for the American people than any president in recent memory, but that’s not what mattered to some voters. Of course, he seemed to be smug and arrogant, cocky and egotistical, nasty and combative, but none of that should matter when measured against his accomplishments while in office. But accomplishments don’t count for much when a candidate carries around all that baggage. It will take some convincing for me not to believe that a fair number of voters cast their ballots for Biden simply as a way of voting against Trump. The difference, painted with a broad bush, was that Biden is the career politician and Trump is the hard-nosed New York businessman – and voters hated Trump because of it.
So, what’s the lesson? The lesson is that it’s better to be a likable, pleasant, smiley candidate who really hasn’t done much than it is to be the candidate who has a record of achievement a mile long, but lacks the tact and cordiality of his or her opponent. The net result for those who voted against Trump by voting for Biden is likely going to be that they get what they deserve over the next four years: higher taxes, more regulations, more government programs controlling things like energy production, saving the environment, and immigration. There will also be an attempt to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, even for jobs that aren’t worth $15 per hour, and reducing our military to a mere shadow of what Trump had made it. We’ll also see a move toward socialism like never before by taking from those who’ve earned it and giving it to those who haven’t for no other reason than it’s just not fair! And while they’re at it, keep an eye on your 2nd Amendment rights, too.
Finally, if one party controls the presidency, the House and the Senate, watch and see if there isn’t an effort made to add two new states to the Union and more justices added to the Supreme Court. Those prospects make the upcoming run-off elections in Georgia for control of the United States Senate more important than the just-concluded presidential election – and all because being liked is apparently more important than being successful.
That’s – 30 – for this week.