Lying by Format

In yesterday’s mail I got a political ad. With Florida’s primary just a few days away, that’s not unusual, but this one was particularly interesting. On the front it reads “Republican Voter Guide” with the admonition under it “Vote September 5th.” Now a reasonable person might conclude that one is going to find a guide to the available Republican candidates for the various offices. That would be pretty useless to me, seeing as I’m an independent.

But being the generally curious sort I opened the ad to see what was on the inside. There we have two columns, comparing just two candidates, and doing so in such a way as to make the candidate on the left column (who ironically claims to be more right wing) look good and the candidate on the right look bad. They go so far as to use a grainy black and white picture for the opponent, and a nice color picture for the candidate they support. (The two candidates are both Republicans seeking a place on the November ballot running for Chief Financial Officer of the state of Florida. Why CFO is an elected position probably doesn’t bear examining.)

My question is why such ads work. I’m not a voter in the Republican primary, but I certainly will vote in the November election, and there’s one candidate who has a serious negative mark against his name for the general election, simply because I know he lied. I don’t think that’s too strong a word. A “voters guide” is generally understood to be a listing of candidates with a comparison of their positions on a selected list of positions. Christian Coalition guides have been challenged for using a much less blatant selection of topics than this, and in addition we have the visual portrayal.

Well, the answer to my question is that we, the voters, simply don’t take responsibility and don’t hold politicians accountable for their behavior. Such an ad should result in the candidate getting a nice checkmark in the “liar” column for every voter who received it, and in this case I mean liar above and beyond the average for politicians.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. As Mark Twain wrote in the June 16, 1867, edition of the San Francisco Alta California, “The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might.”

Comments are closed.