Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Campaigns As a Form of Reality TV

In the future corporate America will take over electioneering altogether to exploit its entertainment value to sell aspirins, cereals for kids, and promote the corporate image of the Fortune 500. That is to say, the private sector will manage all aspects of public sector campaigns, while leaving the public sector intact in its traditional form. This will create vast efficiencies in the electoral marketplace, which is now pretty messy and poorly packaged.

After a national primary day, all of the surviving candidates will be put on a deserted jungle island with varying survival tools and weapons. The TV host will provide instructions for candidates to go through a series of obstacle courses and opportunities to give speeches, which will be evaluated by semi-well known television personalities for believability, emotional connection with the audience, as well as outed for lying or other scandals, as in American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Viewers will evaluate for themselves the skills of the candidates as they run through the obstacles, and a few segments will be devoted to intimate moments in which candidates, exhausted by the day's activities, will confide to each other in front of TV cameras what they really think of the other candidates and confess, perhaps to their own sins. All of this, of course, will be recorded and edited into weekly hour-long segments.

On the first Tuesday in November all TV viewers who have registered with the network will be entitled to vote by electronic means within a ten-minute window of time, and the winners will be announced on prime time as all candidates sit together in an auditorium waiting for the results. The faces of the losing candidates will be shown as the winners are announced. The winners, of course, will become the stars of subsequent reality programs, such as "The Governor's Office Weekly," "Our Senator in DC This Week," (narrated by George Stepanopulos), "The County Commission Blues," etc., in which the sponsors inform us in an entertaining fashion about the personages running our public affairs, dramatic votes in Congress, and so on, so that we can keep up with things like good citizens. This will eliminate the need for most TV news programs (which have gradually evolved into entertaining snippets, anyway), except insofar as they keep us informed about the latest episodes and prepare us for future dramatic segments.

There are seven weeks left until the elections in New Mexico. Most voters begin paying attention about now to the major campaigns, i.e., the governor's race and maybe a local race or two. Many have already made up their minds (normally they will stay loyal to party) firmly enough to say so in a telephone poll, leaving only a small minority who still fall into the "undecided" camp. These are the real target of the last few weeks of campaigning, and an extraordinary amount of money is spent per undecided vote. If the undecided voters happen to trend toward a specific demographic group, such as white males between the ages of 45-65, both campaigns will begin targeting these in their ads, ignoring everyone else. In the smaller races, where polling is impractical, candidates have few options but to put a smile on their faces and meet as frequently as possible with potential voters.

Those who have already decided how they will vote, however, pay close attention to the race because of its entertainment value, which is often high, with eye-catching attack ads, the very real possibility that a candidate will be caught lying blatantly or exposed by some revelation of mischief in the past, real or imagined. If there are debates people who know exactly who they will vote for will watch anyway because of the chance a candidate will stumble badly enough to show up on You Tube. People also like to be open-minded and like to keep a corner of their mind open to changing their vote in the remote chance that their preferred candidate will make terrible tactical mistakes and drive voters into the other camp.

Although I will continue to give updates on what is happening in Juarez, I will spend more time in the next few weeks looking at elections in New Mexico. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As far as the last 8 years with the Richardson adm it would be a straight to video comedy of bloopers!