I was originally going to do a post about American Idol and re-evaluate some of my comments the other day. A lot can change in a few weeks, and I was happy to revisit the issue.
And then, I saw it. American Idol had no chance against this.
Shoved between two local ad spots about something I can’t remember, was that grainy, dark, overly dramatic tone that can only mean one thing: political ad.
There’s a special election for a local race in my district, and campaigning is in full swing. We’ve got yard signs, we’ve got phone calls, we’ve got postcard mailers in our mailboxes. Apparently, that also means we’ve got cheesy political ads.
The reasonable, truth-seeking debater in me hates political ads, which is difficult since the snarky cynic side loves them. Come on, in what other context do you get to make up blatant lies about someone and pretend it’s not your fault by adding “Committee to Elect” in front of you name? I wish I could do that.
“Allison was late to work today because she rescued a burning bus of kittens on the way, says the Committee to Elect Allison Simon. Cuddles will be forever grateful.”
In theory, politics should be the one field that lives and breathes my Primer in Ideological Discourse. It’s not like I spent a lifetime composing that opus of truth and you were fortunate enough to have it bestowed upon you in my final hours. I threw together a few key points in my in-laws’ guest room and slapped them up with numbers in front. Those were general ideas that are supposed to be common sense and certainly second nature to supposed learned professionals.
Seriously, these are people who make a living at events called “Debates.” Their whole existence depends on their knowledge and stance on controversial issues. They wear power suits like nobody’s business. They’re Ivy League millionaires who should follow the rules like you and I stop for freight trains.
And yet, they’re notorious for the opposite. We don’t trust them. We don’t believe a word they say. They amaze us with their ability to talk for hours and say nothing. They straddle lines we didn’t even know could be a line, and 9-year-old bullies blush at the pace in which they hurl names.
At election time we expect stupid commercials that not only insult their opponents, but insult our intelligence as well. I don’t know what I saw last night. Apparently, we’re supposed to believe his opponent is pro-spousal abuse, pro-tearing-down schools-to-drill-for-oil, and pro-whatever-was-going-on-in-the-dark-creepy-geinocological-office.
Right. I’m sure when his opponent sat down with his election committee those were the headings on his “Platform Spreadsheet.”
“Ok, Sam. So after we legalize abuse, which school should we tear down first? I’m pro-large corporations so let’s just put all the kids in a work camp so they’re not a drain on resources.”
Personally, I’m pro-not-being-treated-like-an-idiot.
You know what I really learned from that ad? That the guy running it has a very weak platform if all he could come up with were ridiculous generalities stretched into outright lies. At the very least spend your campaign money on shots of you chatting with an elderly couple in their dated wood-paneled parlor room. Kiss a baby. Bend down and pat a random dog in the park. Smile at the mailman. If you’re not going to say anything of substance, at least make yourself not look like a jerk.
And this, everyone, is the perfect illustration of what happens when you don’t follow the rules for respectful ideological discourse. You end up looking silly. You end up looking dishonest and uncomfortable and completely out of your league.
You end up implying your opponent hates babies and murders bunnies and now you get a blog post.