Political advertisements. ‘Tis the season. And the pundits are on a roll. They should come with a health warning. A spiritual health warning, that is.
They should come with a health warning. A spiritual health warning, that is.
Sure, they elevate blood pressure and elicit profanity from the susceptible, and they are frequently toxic to mental health and ethical vigor –– but my concern is what they do to our souls, both individually and as a nation.
Political advertisements. ‘Tis the season. And the pundits are on a roll.
The psychological manipulation is so obvious, and yet we all fall for it: music in a minor key accompanies images of the opponent while pictures of the favored candidate, spouse and family appear to the happy tunes of Andy of Mayberry.
Misinformation and, sometimes, overt lies have become the norm. Advertisers make sport of taking comments out of context (trained Biblical teachers are well versed in identifying such techniques). And none of this is new. Even in this warm winter, the slope of campaigns lacking integrity is plenty slippery.
What is it about political advertising that sickens the soul? A phrase comes to mind from a prayer of confession in our Presbyterian Church (USA) liturgy: we… “accept lies as truth.” The artfully deceptive craft of political advertising blurs distinctions between falsehood and truth.
So what’s a spiritually conscious citizen who cares about electing leaders with integrity, intelligence and wisdom and who watches television, listens to radio or finds ads popping up on the Web to do for the next nine months? Stop watching TV? Subscribe to Netflix? Play more Angry Birds? Listen to CD’s instead of the car radio on your commute? Push the mute button during ads?
But this campaign season, you should also:
• Make time to check the facts. Those you’d like to be true and those you doubt. Try factcheck.org, politifact.com, mediamatters.org and newsbusters.org. Check more than one because they, too, have their biases.
• Challenge yourself to resist messages that one candidate is devilish and the other angelic, that one candidate is the country’s savior and another its destroyer.
• Question statements by friends making blanket statements about candidates based on a political advertisement. Don't contribute to spreading ignorance.
• Hold your own chosen candidate accountable for misleading messages.
• Pray for integrity, wisdom and courage in all our candidates and elected leaders — local, state and federal.
• Advocate for changes in campaign finance rules, which would, rather than giving the best fundraiser the best chance of winning, favor the candidate who communicates his or her own beliefs and plans and leadership experience with the greatest integrity, conviction and, well, soul.