Political advertisements plague media

Rory Reigle, Staff Reporter

Picture this: you’re watching a YouTube video on your phone. You’re at peace, relaxing in your nice, comfortable bed. Everything is picture-perfect. Then, bam! A political ad, the same one you’ve seen about four times already.

Once it’s over, you move on and forget about it. A lot of people see it as a minor annoyance at best, but what if it’s more than that? What if – albeit unconsciously – those messages stick in your mind, changing and shifting your beliefs without you realizing it? It’s possible that these ads are more effective than people think. 

With the Pennsylvania Senate Election coming up on November 8th, political advertisements have been running rampant, taking over the internet. On the surface, it seems that the two current U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, are just trying to get their names out there, but this isn’t the case.

First, consider the foundation of this issue. These advertisements have a simple purpose: to gain more votes. When a candidate is running for office, the largest ambition is to win. However, it’s the lengths some go to gain that victory that should be examined. 

“I believe the goal of most political ads is to be attention-grabbing and convincing in a very short period of time,” psychology teacher Ms. Laura Schiffer said. “I recall learning that the average consumer attention span is somewhere around eight seconds. That does not leave much time for explanation and instead relies on sensationalized information to gain the viewer’s attention.”

These displays are much more than just commercials to be skipped. Often, candidates go right for their opponents’ throats, digging up dirt and twisting words. It can get incredibly nasty, and definitely has thus far when it comes to Oz and Fetterman. But it’s what’s seemingly necessary to gain the public’s attention. 

All of these advertisements have an agenda. Those aimed at devaluing Fetterman misquote him, painting him as a deranged fanatical leftist who wants to let all murderers free from prison. By doing this, the advertisers use people’s short focus time against them. They’ll just believe it and move on with their day, thinking themselves good Samaritans for disliking a man who would supposedly do something that no one could possibly want. 

“Unfortunately, these [political ads] are quite effective. I mean, we see how successful organizations such as Fox News, the Daily Wire, One American News, Breitbart can be while pushing out the same old bigotry-filled rhetoric,” sophomore speech and debate club member Jaclyn Bossert said. “They do that by appealing to common sense. By twisting the argument to say something nobody will disagree with, then acting like the opposition would disagree, you create incredibly convincing propaganda.”

And propaganda it is. Bandwagon, among other techniques, is incredibly effective. By making John Fetterman out to be some sort of hooligan against basic laws and judicial processes, it makes the viewer feel insane for wanting to vote for him. No one could possibly agree with this man, right?

When the media says Mehmet Oz pushed miracle cures and crawled his way up the social ladder or that he doesn’t belong in Pennsylvania, you believe it because it’s easy. The same goes for hearing about Fetterman’s plan to let homicide slide. It doesn’t matter that there aren’t any sources. 

Who wants to waste their personal hours researching? People just want to vote and go. Deep down, it could even be that society is just disillusioned with democracy, faced with constant choices between two seemingly unlikeable candidates. With politicians, there’s always something to dig up, something to expose. But that doesn’t mean that every single piece of information is credible.

By just going with the flow, allowing yourself to be swayed without skepticism, you feed into a destructive system. A system where hurling insults at an opponent helps you win. Where lying and blurring the lines of truth get you where you want to be. By giving into this propaganda, you perpetuate the rumors that put undeserving politicians on pedestals they built from falsehood. 

“I have fact-checked ads and feel that it is my responsibility to be an informed and knowledgeable voter,” Mrs. Schiffer said.

The responsibility falls on your shoulders. If you’re able to vote and want to, you should take the time to look into candidates yourself. Don’t be led on by the words of political advertisements and propaganda. Exaggeration and deception shouldn’t get anyone anywhere. 

Remember this the next time you see one of these ads: Find the truth for yourself.