By the way, I encourage anyone, French or American to educate yourselves, and GO VOTE! We didn’t always have that right, and it baffles me when people take it for granted and think it’s useless.
Once again, I digress. It has struck me over the years how much the political campaigns have changed. The awareness that image is important to boost the votes during an election is a concept well-known to political advisers, but it’s only until recently that candidates have been under so much scrutiny. The politics have come to that understanding: you are “selling” a candidate, like you sell a product. The same techniques used to sell products and goods are now applied to people. And that means they are promoted via TV commercial, mail, email, social media, and even tabloids.Thanks to the internet, tv and social media, they have invaded our homes and it has become just about impossible to miss them.
But overall, does it work? Here the opinions differ. Some people say that by using technology and social media, the politics can reach a broad range of people that otherwise wouldn’t have been approached, like younger voters for example. This way, people get an idea of what the candidates’ ideas are, who they are, what they are standing for, and a lot of times, who they are standing against.
Others think that the kind of information provided through those outlets is too shallow to allow people to form a proper opinion and make an informed decision, and that on the contrary, giving partial and/or superficial information is becoming misinformation. They accuse the media to be condescending and provide a simple, black-and-white version of the issues at hand.
Of course deciding between two presidential candidates is trickier than deciding between two brands of detergent. There is also the chance that people will completely block the information out, because they are flooded with ads and refuse to let the media invade their lives. For example, because I am registered at the French Consulate of Chicago as a French expatriate, I have received numerous emails from all the candidates (there are ten of them in the first round of elections in France, then two in the second round) detailing their positions and their plan for the country if they get elected. To be honest, I was getting so many every day, that I felt spammed and ended up deleting a lot of them without reading.
However, I feel it’s better to be bombed by information than not informed at all. To continue with my example, I may have deleted a lot of those emails, but I kept some that I found interesting and used the information in them to do more research about the campaign.
Of course in an ideal world, journalists and PR people would care more about the content of their articles and their advertisement and wouldn’t resort to demagoguery to convince people, but as flawed as the information can be, it is still here and available, and anyone has the freedom to dig deeper and even look at the competition’s version to make their own opinion, and that kind of freedom is priceless… Just like voting itself.
PS: Here are a couple links I found interesting concerning campaigning and the media issue during elections: