Truth is hard to find in political campaigns
Super PACs: The Death of Facts in political advertisements
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 02:11
The results are in. The United States has voted for Barack Obama to stay in office. So now, finally, election season can wind down. And with it so can the political rhetoric and lies that have begun to populate all forms of politics.
Some ads bolster positive messages like Obama’s “Progress” poster or Romney’s “Believe in America” banner. But others, what seems like the vast majority, are geared to tear down the other candidate. This negative approach has always existed in politics, this form of finger-pointing, blaming, and defacing. It seems as though the positive campaign is a concept of the past.
Not only did both opponents focus large chunks of advertising time and money on damaging the other man, but also both men personally lied on stage and on camera during both debates and speeches.
The lies varied in size and importance. Some were small and surely held little merit in voters’ eyes, like Romney’s claim that Chrysler was “thinking of moving all production to China,” an outright lie. But many more had the potential to shift the grounds of the election like the Obama campaign ad claiming that “Romney backed a law that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest,” an issue upon which many Americans base their vote. The claim was based off a law that never even existed.
The list of these claims goes on. There are websites dedicated solely to political fact-checking. Anything of suspect that a candidate has said can be found and checked.
What separates the 2012 election year from previous years is the introduction of super PACs and their ability to raise unregulated sums from corporations and individuals alike. In January 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that these independent political organizations could fund any political candidate to any extent. This year 78 percent of these super PAC ads were said to be in opposition of the opposing candidate. Many of these ads used blatant lies or grand hyperbole that fully overshadowed anything either candidate ever uttered.
Worse than the candidates themselves, these super PACs have no hands to try to keep clean. Instead they are free to implicate any candidate to any extent. One such ad from Empower Citizens Network claimed in a commercial which ran in Ohio that “It is a big lie that Democrats are for black Americans.”
This 2012 election year is the first to see the impact of the super PAC and the resounding effect on political rhetoric. Candidates have been caught lying before. Presidents have lied before and even resigned. Yet this year seemed worse. Maybe there are more ways out there to catch a liar and be informed. Or maybe candidates just lie more. After all, both Romney and Obama were caught redhanded countless times, yet both continued misrepresenting and misquoting their opponent.