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There was nothing like distance learning when I was an undergrad. Come election season, though, the commercials are clogging the airwaves with all the hoopla of a public television special.
The ads are all about going to the polls to “vote early,” or “get out and vote!” To some people, the ultimate meaning of that warning is “break your legs and jump off a bridge.”
Perhaps those ads are just plain out-of-touch. The United States’ first government was not established until 1789, four years after Colonial Virginia’s King George III returned to the throne and practically declared war on his own people.
In the years immediately before and after that election, that colony remained an abject underclass. The laws making Virginia’s citizens citizens were so pernicious that any person who defied them, killed someone, or married a runaway slave, would be executed.
Could George Washington’s predecessor have imagined that same fate for him on Jan. 20, 2017? Or could it be that he was simply running out of time in an election held the instant after World War II kicked off?
Take a close look at all the pre-election ads warning citizens to stay home, and you’ll notice that they’re all featuring the same dismal assortment of people with empty eyes staring at the camera as they curse the darkness, shame their way through a motivational speech that sounds more like quackery than actual instruction, or sound like Southern illiterates going on crack. These ads are a failure of imagination and a failure of leadership. It’s as if they were designed to make you think that any freedom-loving citizen who doesn’t follow through on voting or donating $100 ought to be locked up or murdered on sight.
Then there are the politicians themselves—especially the ones you’ve heard so much about, who “prop up the cause” and shout to the heavens about “working to change the government.” It seems the campaigns for each party’s presidential nominee are trying to do the same thing, revivify the Constitution and assert that there are already trustworthy experts to run our government. Who else could possibly have run up this huge national debt that George W. Bush and Barack Obama practically created?
And then there’s the American citizenry. People who often seem to know little of the essentials about government, which is why we’re sinking further and further into debt and getting ever more hopelessly bogged down with an ever-worsening gridlock.
All this will be told to you like a lesson from a high school civics teacher, probably in a classroom long after everyone in the whole country’s power structure has realized that you’re just another stupid bastard who will never get past the voting booth.
But doesn’t that kind of ignorant rhetoric get only worse with time? One sad case in point is a new series of ads now being broadcast on AT&T’s U-verse DirectTV and DirecTV Now. The series of ads features men and women getting over a series of embarrassing experiences in order to get to the place where you can vote in elections. It’s as if I went around having a little misunderstanding with a police officer. All these small mistakes were made in various parts of the country and I ended up “surrounded by reporters” waiting to get the story. Somehow we can’t teach kids this, so we’re just going to entertain them with clever commercials on how you can get your vote in on Election Day by recounting your own bizarre mistakes. It’s not like they’re going to ask you for your ID or anything.
What is really a shame is that people see this ad series and let their cynicism take hold. They think they can become human beings who enter the voting booth and forget that so many of the issues that affect their daily lives would be well beyond their capacities if their government were simply a reflection of their own confidence in themselves. To make matters worse, the series uses soothing music to try to convey that people can never become too sick of this false sense of self-worth to vote. It’s the kind of passive-aggressive advertising that shuts up people who have enough sense not to believe anything that a corporation tells them to believe anyway.
America’s people deserve better than this kind of programming. They deserve less of this cynical propaganda that shows how they will never be able to become the “smart, responsible” adults that our country was founded to produce.