As the 2018 election nears, I’ve been force-fed a lot of campaign ads. After much analysis, I’ve narrowed their propaganda into two (oversimplified) genres: puffery and smear campaigns. Although I will admit my categories were partially an excuse to use some impractical SAT words, from what I’ve observed, the campaign tactics used were either redundant testimonials to exaggeratedly boast a candidate’s achievements, or simply a portrait of a political competitor with ditzy music playing in the background as a husky narrator makes a joke out of another candidate’s career. It’s been discouraging to see an opportunity for creative marketing be executed via cheap, repetitive and recycled content. The political solicitation I’ve seen has, counterintuitively, made me less inclined to support any particular candidate.
Imagine this: you’re sitting in your dorm room. It’s been a long day, so you cozy up under your blanket with your headphones plugged in. You take a look at the laundry you haven’t done that sits across the room. There’s a knock at your door. Is it a friend? Is it a JC? Nay, it’s Richard Douglas’ campaign committee with a smile, ready to educate you on how he really is the messiah of contemporary politics. This isn’t even chimerical; this has actually happened on campus in people’s dorms at St. Olaf.
At first, upon hearing this, I was angry and blown away. It felt like an invasion of privacy. I didn’t care how many special interest groups Douglas refused to accept money from, perusing the halls of college dorms felt inappropriate. The more I’ve thought about it, though, the less I seem to mind. Poor campaigning has made my decision even clearer, because now I know who not to vote for. How can politicians preach that they understand the needs of America’s next generation of voters when they don’t seem to be able to connect or relate with us?
We’ve covered the puff, so now it’s time for the smear campaigning. I can’t begin to describe how ingrained in my head it is that Angie Craig only sees dollar signs, or that Jason Lewis gets rich while we get squeezed. I find that the more I listen to this uncreative vilification, the more I want to spite these campaign ads and vote in the opposite direction. I’ve come to learn that if slander is the only way to get your point across, you don’t have a point.
It’s unfathomable to me that politicians genuinely believe boasting and name-calling is a way to increase voter participation. Their strategies continue to be thoughtless and unempathetic with little relatability to their target demographic. I refuse to believe it’s that difficult to present someone in a way that is classy, tasteful and encouraging. This is why I’m taking this article as an opportunity to announce my 2018 candidacy for senate.
The youths are the future and, being one myself, I know what the youths need. The only place I see dollar signs is on the future of the United States economy, and I’ll squeeze every working and middle-class American out of poverty. What I lack in age and qualification, I make up for in my natural charisma and infectious personality. Get out there and vote for me, Alexia Nizhny, in the 2018 election. With me in office, the only thing that’s going to knock at your dorm room door is freedom.
Alexia Nizhny ’22 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from New York, N.Y. Her major is undecided.