A year from now we’ll be in the election’s grimmest days; those weeks before the voting when every scrap of dirt that can be hurled at the candidates will have been unearthed, souped-up and chucked, and whatever can’t be unearthed will simply be made up.
According to today’s estimates, campaigns are set to spend some $4.4 billion
dollars on 2016 political advertising. They call it advertising, but most of those
billions will be used to attack.
While there’s little evidence that attack ads persuade undecided voters they do
have real impact and they create their own credibility – mostly because people in
the credibility business talk about them. Be it gossip rumor or slander - if enough
people are talking about it especially on TV and in the papers, it starts to sound
as if it’s true.
Take this cycle. There are plenty of reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton. She’s a
centrist and a hawk, for starters. But there’s precious little evidence she did
anything with her emails that every Secretary before her didn’t do – and the rules
she supposedly broke weren’t made until after she left office. As for preserving
public records and transparency, the GOP hypocrisy is stinking. I don’t blame
camp Clinton for screaming to high heaven about Dick Cheney’s energy task
Still, before you shed real tears for the pols, remember, the name-calling some of
the most powerful people in the world are complaining about now, is the same
name-calling some far less powerful people feel all the time.
You don’t have to recall the Witch Hunts, the red scares or the FBI’s co-intel-pro
wars to find victims of slander. This time of year also marks the four year
anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a national stir that seemed like it could kick
off a new grassroots movement, until people with influence cast it as a leaderless
mess, mucked up by infighting and then failed to cover the actual violence of
coordinated police raids on defenseless occupiers.
Some people are always getting smeared. Consider “juvenile predators”, “welfare
queens” and “ illegal aliens” Year in year out, people in power say disparaging,
fact-free things to serve their own interests. The difference is, in an election year,
other people in power get upset about it.
You can watch my interview with Ellen and Rachel Meeropol, a mother, and daughter each seeking change, and my interview with Boots Riley, this week on The Laura Flanders Show at lauraflanders.org.
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