April 2, 2004
By Bill Kraus
This proposal is not an April fool's day joke, although the presidential campaign that inspired it is flirting with that characterization: Let's ban campaign commercials.
What is becoming increasingly obvious is that 30-second political television advertising is as dangerous to our democratic health as banned 30-second cigarette and hard liquor commercials are presumed to be to our physical well being.
So why not simply ban the former as well?
Well, there is the money for one thing. Political advertising, which used to be a nuisance to television broadcasters, is now an economic necessity. No political TV = no profits.
The other thing, of course, is that the destructive campaigning of the last half century (remember when it was possible to like Ike without abhorring Adlai?) has driven so many people away from what was once an honorable trade practiced by remarkable people, that the only way to find and persuade voters is with the kind of fast, slick advertising that was invented to sell colas and beers rather than ideas and leaders.
If political commercials were banned, is it possible that the politicians could get their good names back and the moderate-middle voters who used to decide elections would become political again?
It is worth a try.
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