The National Archives have been known as a treasure of substance and literal recording of the history of America since Edison. In recent years, however, with the advent of the soundbite media and culture examiners, pure journalists and truth seekers are sounding alarms to what constitutes real substance. Like three year old’s looking to get a charge out of their brothers and sisters, politicians are geared to find something that gets a charge out of their base with lines like “Horses and Bayonets,” and “The president’s a nice guy, but I don’t want him to be my president.” The national dialog has a few screws missing and it’s wave over “what we spend” and “how we vote” is getting “further away from the dock,” and the oar locks have fallen in the water.
Hope and Change turns to Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
It goes beyond the political advertising of the day. In one minute a candidate can use 185 powerful words to say what he or she is for and what their policies are about without smearing, or attacking, and without insulting our intelligence. So much for “hope and change,” the turn wasn’t as drastic as it seemed. For people who want to go “forward” the handlers for the President have turned him into a tight robotic, soundbite machine. “It’s like watching Obama play Nixon in an Oliver Stone movie and Romney play a relaxed but well informed Reagan,” says a political analyst with a Denver based conservative think tank. “Where they can’t attack, they interrupt, and when it’s their turn they repeat the lines that get a charge from the base and that backfires.”
Experiment number one
One of the experiments that is being conducted at a local college, media department’s advertising class, is to write a 185 word position minute for both the Republican and Democratic platforms without attacking the other. What students found was that when they extracted the nuggets, and showed an “elevator pitch” based business plan for the nation, substance rises to the top. Inc Magazine has an elevator pitch format that the students use and by the end of the project they have what sounds like an overview of their party platform and like the brand statement for Fox News, “they report and you decide.”
The Republican Party Pitch: “The principles written in the Constitution are secured by the character of the American people. President George Washington said in his first inaugural address: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” Values matter. Character counts. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand these great truths. They share a positive vision for America – a vision of America renewed and strong. They know America’s best days lay ahead. It will take honest results-oriented, conservative leadership to enact good policies for our people. They will provide it. (101 words)
The Democratic Party Pitch
Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. Our party, led by President Obama, is focused on building an economy that lasts—an economy that lifts up all Americans. That’s why Democrats are working to advance issues like job creation, education, health care, and clean energy—and you’ll find all the information you need on these important issues right here on Democrats.org.
The students put both of the platforms together to make one spot in a perfect 189 words in sixty seconds with a tag line that just said “Vote.” Underneath Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the common man” an African American Woman begins with stills of Washington DC, the Rocky Mountains, our cities, the real urban, the real rural, the rich, the poor and kids playing soccer.”
African American Woman:
The principles written in the Constitution are secured by the character of the American people. President George Washington said: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
A Caucasian young executive type male:
Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
An Asian Immigrant: (a photo of “Hells Kitchen in New York- vendors with street carts at sunrise)
Values matter. Character counts. Mitt Romney understands these truths, a positive vision for America – renewed and strong. Our best days lay ahead.
African American Student (first time voter?): Our party, led by President Obama, is focused on building an economy that lasts—that lifts up all Americans. That’s why Democrats are working to advance issues like job creation, education, health care, and clean energy.
Hispanic “Soccer Mom”
It’s honest results-oriented, conservative leadership that enacts good policies for our people. Republican’s will provide it.
Announcer: It only takes a minute to reveal what we stand for and which direction we can choose to go. “We the people” have the power in our right or left hand’s-index finger. You have the power- Vote. A message from American’s everywhere.
Ad substance versus ad-nausea
The soundtrack of America can be divided into two thirty second spots merged together on what the President likes to call “Two different visions for our country.” The preambles to both party platforms get beyond gridlock and robotic soundbites, taken out of context. Succinct differences in motive, approach and power. As media professionals fighting over devices and being divisive are rarely effective. Words measured carefully and uttered with authentic care by silhouettes will have much more value in the national archives than any “soundbite” from ad-nausea of politicians desperate to win at our cost. As media professionals we all need to take responsibility and stewardship of our airwaves and broadband.
Media and Culture examiner appears every Wednesday at examiner.com. For more on this commentary and report please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.