In the early, developing Republic, a place in government was highly revered. After all, not just anyone could enter into electoral politics. This was the place for the wealthy, well-educated and presumably selfless men. Alexander Hamilton, one of the leaders shaping early and enduring American political thought, assumed that these men were among those most qualified to fulfill such highly noble duties.
Year after year, however, we see the further tarnishing of this once noble position with the word “politician” spat in more disdain or accompanied with a cynical roll of the eyes and shake of the head. All romanticism aside, we realize that money and education doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to be that in electoral politics or not. In fact, perhaps in this day and age, the wealth and education of a handful few tend to lay to waste.
In a digitalized world and in a time where things are increasingly designed to consume less time and go faster — take for instance the fact that a Hot Pocket pastry only needs a minute in the microwave — when we vote, what do we vote on? A candidate’s platform? A name we can easily remember? Who had the best TV spot? Perhaps there’s some hybrid.
The magic of advertising and efficient organizing is what makes the difference between two strong contenders for office and two weaker ones.
As people, we tend to gravitate towards visual and emotional messages rather than ones that are factual and solution based. As perfectly captured in the campaigning advice from the famed Robert Penn Warren novel, “All the King’s Men,” “Forget the rest of the tax stuff … Make ‘em cry, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em mad. … Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”
Campaigning is emotionally driven at its very core, explaining why we cling to words like “change” and images like the rising sun. In spite of this, there also exists the uglier face in which mudslinging and name calling run rampant — all in an effort to be the lesser of two evils come time to cast a ballot.
In a recent campaign advertisement released by an Ohio Tea Party member, perhaps it’s time to turn off the televisions. J.D. Winteregg, a primary challenger in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, the same as Speaker of the House, John Boehner. Winteregg, like many high schoolers, made jabs at the name. According to Winteregg, Boehner has “electile dysfunction” and apparently, through the campaign ad, not the maturity to brainstorm a better ploy for publicity.
This ad, which looks more like something off the “Daily Show,” entertains, but is childish nonetheless. If the Tea Party is looking for more support come election time, this isn’t a reasonable way to seek it.
From the violent butter eating, the jabs at Boehner’s tan, and even the concluded assurance that Winteregg does not, in fact, golf, viewers will enjoy the comic relief. This won’t likely translate into votes. A vast majority of the American public is likely ready for the Tea Party to be a little less ridiculous.
Perhaps Boehner will take this lightheartedly, this not being the first time someone has poked fun at his name (sorry, Winteregg, he’s probably heard it all before), this doesn’t diminish the fact that Winteregg likely isn’t the man for the job. Perhaps that wealth and education was devoted to the wrong campaign ad at the wrong time.
The moment is not right for J.D. Winteregg.
Reach the columnist at Alexis.Gonzalez@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @0Moscwow
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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