Politicians are walking advertisements

By Cody Laplante

“Yes We Can.”

This was the phrase plastered across televisions in 2008. These three words were at the center of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.

However, do these words give the voting population any indication as to the policies Obama stands for?

I do not intend to offend Obama, and my message stands bipartisan, but this is a perfect example of the marketing techniques used by political candidates.

And they work.

I have the firm belief that in this past presidential election, Obama still would have won if he was a Republican and former Gov. Mitt Romney was a Democrat.

Why would I say this? Well, because these days campaigns aren’t selling policy; they are selling a product.

And why shouldn’t they, with media advertisements promising better tomorrows and sunshine? It is understandable why voters are swayed.

According to the New York Times, Obama’s campaign and its affiliates spent $985.7 million on his re-election and Romney’s campaign and its affiliates spent $992 million. With that much money going into elections, the persuasion techniques are going to be top notch.

But when the question, “Who has run the better campaign?” is asked, policy is no longer in play. On Oct. 22, 2012, two full weeks before the election, Al DiGuido, a CEO for Optimus Publishing, wrote in a DMNews.com article, “…Obama has done a much better job in leveraging the full toolkit available to wage brand battle….”

Obama simply marketed his product better than Romney and two weeks later, we re-elected Obama as our president.

It just goes to show how little campaigning has to do with policy and how much it has to do with social networking, public relations and creating an image that everyone can identify with.

Obama did just that. He is viewed as the young black activist who faced adversity and won the White House. When you consider that Romney is seen as the white, corporate executive who inherited millions, it is obvious to me why Obama won the election.

Now, I have no problem with our president, and as an independent voter I have no problem with Romney.

However, looking back on my voting choice, I have to wonder: Did I vote for the candidate who had the best policy or did I vote for the candidate who looked the best?

It’s hard for me to judge due to my overwhelming bias, but I think that it is still important to wonder.

Persuasion is a powerful weapon and it is important for us as voters to recognize a politician’s effort to persuade us, because unlike other persuasive ads, a presidential campaign is selling something much more important than a Snuggie; they are selling a candidate to be our president.

As this election is over, we do not have to worry about political campaigning for a while. But the next time two candidates fight for political office, will you be able to look past appearance, image and persuasive media and understand exactly what the candidates will do?

As an effort to stay bipartisan, I am reluctant to use this phrase but, well, yes we can.