Once upon a time, a long long time ago, the Christmas season began the day after Thanksgiving. That was sufficient time to get into the spirit, view the lights, buy a nice tree and decorate it, watch for the 200th time “It’s a Good Life” or that movie about a kid who wants a BB gun for Christmas, and buy whatever was being advertised as “Christmas Specials.”
And then the season, promoted by advertisers and businesses, elongated itself to Halloween. And then it began after Labor Day. And now we have Christmas in July special sales. Nevertheless, whenever it begins, we are usually in the spirit and welcome the joys of the season.
Not so much with politics. Politicians and talk-show bloviators lie and distort truth beginning the day after the previous election and continue their noise until we submit by finally going to the polls and try to vote out the myriad messages that are certainly not of mirth.
The immediate beneficiaries of an elongated campaign season are the radio and TV media, which should receive about $1 billion in ad buys from the campaigns and outside organizations of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. Heavy TV advertising, more than 80 percent of it negative ads, is now blanketing the major swing states, led by Florida, and closely followed by Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, and Nevada.
The Green Bay and Madison, Wisc., markets are also showing increased media buys, the result of Rep. Paul Ryan being the Republicans’ vice-presidential candidate.
Pennsylvania, saturated by advertising in the 2008 election, is far down the list. The Romney campaign appears to have conceded the Keystone state, and is moving its spending into other states. Michigan, another state that saw heavy spending for media buys in 2008, is also out of the Top 10. This is possibly because Romney had been adamant about not helping the failing auto industry, while President Obama, with United Auto Worker concessions, arranged a program to keep the auto industry alive, allow them time to repay multi-million dollar loans, most of which have now been paid back, while forcing them to fast-track energy-efficient vehicles and consolidate duplicate operations.
The print industry has also benefitted, pumping out hundreds of millions of flyers, brochures, postcards, and door hangers, which are delivered almost daily in the swing states—and then quickly recycled.
At the local level, we’re seeing million-dollar campaigns, primarily funded by every kind of lobbying group known to mankind—and a few that don’t seem to have any earthly reason for existence, except to buy an election.
It’s now about two weeks before the election. For a week after the election we’ll hear all the pundits try to explain what happened and why. And, they’ll all be wrong.
Sometimes, being bathed by the wisdom of the Founding Fathers’ that all views should be heard, even the ones we disagree with, even the ones that may not be truthful, may be more than any citizen should have to endure.
In the meantime, we can block out the advertising attack and the sounds of blather by candidates, their followers, and the pundits by listening to the music of bells—and by people crushing each other for the right to buy whatever it is that we’re told is this year’s latest “must-have” gift, being fully aware that truth in advertising is equally elusive for both seasons.
Walter Brasch’s latest book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution. His forthcoming book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster. Assisting on this story was Rosemary Brasch.