Home > BLOG 3 > Blog #3: Changing political campaigns

Blog #3: Changing political campaigns

The presidency, as I know it, has always been somewhat of a popularity contest.  In order to get elected, the candidate must first win over the majority of the American public.  This is done through various forms of controlled advertising, public media coverage, and lastly a strong platform.  In the past, presidential candidates would make a few visits to select cities and then ride the policy of the party in order to be elected into office.  Starting with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, less emphasis was put on party policies and more was put directly on the candidate as an individual.  For the first time, nearly everyone in the American public had the opportunity to become aquatinted with the candidates through television.  In many ways the people were no longer voting for a person they thought had a good platform but a person they thought was a good person.

“Voting for president is more like making a psychological purchase” (McGinniss pg. 27)

In contrast to presidential campaigns before 1968, Nixon’s campaign was ground breaking.  Even today, the tactics that are used in every election were not heard of even 50 years ago.

The differences in production and packaging are immense considering all of these men are seeking the same public office.  One key element that has stayed the same from the Nixon election of 1968 to today is the perception of the president.  From the time NIxon was elected to now, every president has claimed to be “an ordinary American citizen” but in reality these men are anything from ordinary.

“The American voter, insisting upon his belief in a higher order, clings to his religion, which promises another, better life; and defends passionately the illusion that the men he chooses to lead him are of finer nature than he.” (McGinniss pg. 26)

In reality this is the way of the democratic system, to elect someone more qualified than the majority of the people to make decisions that are in the best interest of the masses.  The problem today becomes the catch 22 question; Is what the majority wants the best interest of the masses or is performing against the will of the masses in an effort to lead the democratic way.  The common trend here would be to satisfy the masses because by satisfying more people, the candidate will have a better chance at being reelected.

While the issue on what is truly democratic may never be solved, another point to consider in current political campaigns is the popularity of the candidates.  In today’s society, these people become more like celebrities than political personal.  With the influence of television, even the people who report the news become celebrities.  (McGinniss pg.28)  In conclusion, the most important thing to realize is that these candidates are not trying to show the American public what they have to offer but rather work to show the American people what they want in order to get elected.

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