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Kent Bernhardt: The big tune out

Once, long ago, I visited a farm.  I knew I was on a farm because, aside from being surrounded by a lot of cows, there was the smell of fresh “fertilizer” in the air.

Today, I know election day is near the same way.  My nose tells me.

This year, I’m not sure how they’ve done it, but Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan have managed to buy every unsold morsel of TV advertising time available in the free world.

I’m actually beginning to miss some of the rancid car dealership ads they replaced.  I even yearn for the guy who sits on the bull and yells “Vaaaalllldeese”!  At least he had something valuable to say.

Kay and Thom have even infiltrated the ad time on some YouTube videos I’ve watched recently. They tried to get me to watch 30 seconds of one of them before I could see a kitten try to play with a porcelain parrot.  I passed.

Their message is lost on me. I’ve successfully put them in the category of white noise. I know the ads are on in the background because I catch occasional bites of their names and a word here and there, but trust me, Mr. Ad Executive, their message isn’t getting through.

That’s because, over the course of a few election years, I’ve learned what political ads are. They’re a fright fest. The object is to saturate the airwaves with advertising that scares viewers to death of the possibility their opponent will get elected.

The problem is it works.  We fall for it every election year.

And the reason we fall for it is, we’re all sheep. We don’t like to do our homework on a candidate or even think for ourselves. We follow our flock and vote the way they vote.


I’m luckier than most.  I’ve grown totally numb to the half-truths and innuendos in the ads. Others aren’t so fortunate.

I heard two people arguing over the fiction in one of the ads just the other day. I actually stopped them, told them to remember where they heard the information, and advised them to spread that information over their yard for greener grass.

We could fix the problem right now. Simply make a law forbidding a candidate from mentioning their opponent. Most would have nothing to say after that, and political ads would disappear overnight.

Also, if drug companies have to state every side effect of the drugs they advertise, politicians should be subject to the same rules.  Then, after 10 seconds of actual advertising for a candidate, we’d hear 50 seconds of a disclaimer like, “Voting for this candidate may cause severe bloated government, continuous nausea and chronic hemorrhaging of the wallet.”

But the biggest fix for this problem comes from within. We have to care enough about our vote to use it wisely. That means homework and good sound research to help us make better choices. Sure it’s hard.  But it’s a lot easier now than it used to be, and there are reliable sources at our fingertips.

Kay and Thom have succeeded in a way. They bought a truckload of ads designed to frighten us away from their opponent.

It worked. I’m scared to death of both of them.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.



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