DIRTY ADVERTISING IS NOT A NEW TACTIC

Negative political advertising is almost as old as America itself. In fact, Thomas Jefferson hired James Thomson Callender to write inflammatory stories about the Federalist Party, hoping no one would know that he was behind them. Callender was arrested for these articles under the Alien and Sedition Act, which made it a law not to criticize high ranking government officials. When Jefferson did not rescue him, Callender broke the story regarding an illicit relationship with slave Sally Hemmings. John Adams released ads stating that Jefferson would bring “murder, robbery, rape and incest” to the U.S. because of his support for the French Revolution. It has been nasty ever since.

The Johnson-Goldwater race in 1964 had the famed daisy ad. A little girl picked the petals off of a daisy one by one, while a voice over counted down to one, afterwards a nuclear bomb exploded, obliterating the image of the girl. The message was clear that Goldwater’s response to the cold war was to use nuclear weapons. Goldwater had a slogan, “in your heart you know he’s right.” The Johnson rebuttal was, “in your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

Every election cycle seems to get more expensive and have more extreme ads. The 2010 election will cost between $3 and 4 billion in total advertising. We will not know the final amount for several more days. But it is clearly the dirtiest on record. An ad against House Speaker Pelosi compares her to the “Wicked Witch of the West” complete with flying monkeys on a Wizard of Oz screen with her face on the witch. Nancy Pelosi’s favorable rating is 10 percent nationally, lower than former Vice President Dick Cheney, at his lowest point.

Majority Leader Reid released television ads stating that opponent Sharron Angle has been drinking “crazy juice” causing her, of course, to be crazy. The ad has a caption stating that Sharron Angle thinks “the government is poisoning you with fluoride.” An independent group, Latinos for Reform, released an ad asking Hispanics not to vote at all. This ad has been linked to Sharron Angle and other Republicans. Senator Reid’s ad states that Sharron Angle is calling for “armed resistance against the U.S. Congress.’ She countered by saying Reid wants waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear, giving them free social security benefits, tax breaks and college tuition.

Rep. Grayson of Florida, called his opponent Dan Webster, “Taliban Dan” and released an ad, stating that battered women should stay in abusive marriages comparing his position on women’s issues to the Taliban. Governor Manchin of West Virginia, who is running for the late Robert Byrd’s Senate seat has an ad showing him firing a shot gun against the cap and trade bill. It states that Manchin” is no liberal and he will get government off our backs.” He has the gun pointing at the screen. As a Democrat, this shows him distancing himself from President Obama and the party leadership.

Christine O’Donnell of Delaware ran an ad stating that “she is not a witch and that she is really one of us.” O’Donnell, a Tea Party candidate, has been barraged, along with the others, with a torrent of ads calling them a “veritable army of zombie grandmothers, grandfathers, veterans and neighbors hell bent on dragging the country back to the constitution, killing homosexuals and espousing crazy, radical ideas.” Other ads state that they would “tear down the 100 year safety net, succeed from the Union, advocate murder for homosexuals and lesbians and declare climate change a myth.” Not to be outdone, a pro-Tea Party Ad calls illegal immigration, a way to “bring millions of extra people into the U.S. defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.”

One political pundit, decrying the union and corporate ads, states that “candidates and party money no longer have to do the heavy lifting on negative ads. It is being outsourced to nameless, faceless assassins who come in at night and take out the opponents.”

So now it is Election Day and this madness will be over, until the 2012 election campaign starts. If this election cost between $3 and 4 billion, without President Obama on the ballot, can one imagine how much the next election will cost? And based on this election, can one imagine just how dirty and harsh the ads will be?

Even so, we hope you voted today. If you did, you have strengthened our Democracy.

lobbying politics election

David Crow
President, DC Legislative & Regulatory Services, Inc.
 

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DON’T FORGET TO VOTE TOMORROW!

vote election november 2

I hear you when you say that it’s hard to get motivated to vote.  Not only are you so sick of the political campaigns by the time election day comes around that you can’t fathom spending another hour trying to sort through the mess of candidates, but you’re also so confused about who stands for what and who lied to whom that you aren’t sure what direction is up anymore.

That, my friends, is an unfortunate symptom to our democratic, two-party system.  Or maybe of our media only publicizing the worst story.  Or maybe of a lack of upstanding candidates.

Those quandaries are for another post.

What can’t be put off is the simple privilege offered to us in the opportunity to vote tomorrow.  Yes, we may not love the candidates and we may tire of the campaign, but we can’t put aside the millions of people outside our borders that are dying, literally dying, for the same opportunity that you will be offered tomorrow.

While I remain unsure who will ultimately get my vote, I have to admit that Congressman Mark Kirk (currently running for US Senate) did get my attention during his visit to IL Corn in August when he said that electing him to serve Illinois during the lame duck session* would change the balance of parties in the Senate during a time when one party might try to shove policies through the system before the other party gains power in January.  To think that the voters of Illinois might have that much power over policies and the federal government … well … it’s an empowering reminder of how important each vote is!

The moral of the story here is that every American citizen is important.  And to that end, every FARMER is important.  With fewer than 2 percent of the population having your profession and voting in a way that might benefit you, it becomes all the more important to exercise your right.

No one else is going to do it for you.  Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.

*current Illinois Senator Roland Burris who was seated by Rod Blagojevich just before his world blew up was ruled an unconstitutional act and now the people of Illinois get to vote for Senator twice tomorrow – once to fill the seat during the lame duck session and once to fill it starting in January.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

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CONG HALVORSON, JOHNSON SUPPORT IL CORN EFFORTS

My kids, four and six, often ask me what I do.  My job isn’t easy to describe to a four year old or a six year old or even the class of first graders I talked to the other day.  Put simply, all the staff at Illinois Corn are trying to help farmers, support farmers, and make it as easy as it possibly can be to do their jobs.

One of the ways we’ve been trying to do just that is to address the federal crop insurance program.

Have we fixed it yet?  Not at all, but we are working on it.  Will our current solution make a dent in the problems crop insurance presents to Illinois corn farmers?  Definitely.  In fact, experts predict that the current route we’re taking to fix crop insurance will “fix” about 50% of the problems farmers have with the program.

As with any federal program, our fix for crop insurance is complicated.  If I were to put it in layman’s terms, I’d tell you simply that Illinois Corn Growers Association is working on an endorsement that will take into account the exponential growth in corn yields over time.  Right now, farmers are typically underinsured because the current program assumes that yields stay the same over time.  The “fix” will help farmers who try to insure 80% of their expected yield actually insure nearly 80% of their expected yield.

But here’s the take home message.  Because we’re working with the federal government (USDA Risk Management Agency) on this possible new endorsement, its a long and complicated and involved procedure.  So the Illinois Corn Growers Association would like to express their sincere appreciation to the Illinois Congressional Delegation that sent a letter to the RMA Administrator this week in support of our proposal.

Thank you, Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, for spear-heading a letter that was signed by Congressmen Hare, Foster, Bean, Costello, and Lipinski among other out of state Congressmen.  And thank you to Congressman Tim Johnson for heading up a letter signed by Congressmen Schock and Shimkus as well as other Congressmen from Iowa and Nebraska.

Illinois corn farmers appreciate your assistance and your support!

 

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

VOTE

Among other things, one important activity our board engaged in last week was the Illinois Ag Legislative Roundtable’s Candidate Forum.  We heard from Governor Pat Quinn, his opponent Representative Bill Brady, Congressman Mark Kirk who is running for Senate and his opponent and current Treasurer of the IL Alexi Giannoulias.
It really was a great night.  The weather was lovely as we listened to them from the middle of a cornfield in McLean County and the food was good.  Any farmer knows that the quality of a meeting can be partially judged by the food, right?
But this post isn’t really about the candidates.  Nor is it about the food.  It’s really about just plain voting.
I came home from the Candidate Forum and I was energized.  Actually, I was less energized and more motivated.  The candidates probably don’t really inspire me as much as they motivate me to want to control government spending.  Will any of our candidates do that?  I’m not sure … but the fact remains that I’m going to vote simply because I want someone that might control spending to get into office.

 

And as motivated as I was, as I spoke to my neighbor, she was equally unmotivated.  She doesn’t care.  She doesn’t think her vote matters.  She believes that all the candidates on every side of the aisle are biased and uncaring about the American/Illinois public.  She believes that they are all seeking election for the wrong reasons.

She can’t find a candidate that she can believe in.  She can’t find a candidate that she mostly agrees with and she doesn’t understand how she can prioritize to just one topic and vote according to candidate positions on that topic.

I’m sure I can find fifty other people in the span of the next fifteen minutes that agree with her.

In the chronicals of our history I’m sure there are also millions and millions of letters, articles, stories that aim to inspire people to vote.  Will I do any better than any of those?  Likely not, but I can’t ignore it all the same.

Perhaps the problem with our country is not so much the politicians as it is the plain old citizens – the ones that are uninspired, apathetic, and too busy to care or notice what’s happening.  Perhaps the problem with our state is that its citizens aren’t demanding more accountability, more access, and more information.  Perhaps the problem with our democracy isn’t the vote, but the voters themselves.

To paraphase something Treasurer Giannoulias said in his address, things in Washington aren’t going to change until elected officials quit serving their party and themselves and recognize that they are serving the American public.

Perhaps things in Washington (and Illinois!) aren’t going to change until each and every ordinary citizen does exactly the same.

Vote.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director