As the current presidential campaign winds down, and observers are
inundated with political messages, a recent presentation on political
advertisements at Miami’s Wolfsonian Museum is of particular interest.
The Wolfsonian is a unique museum that focuses on propaganda. It hosted a
film by archivists Antoni Muntados and Marshall Reese that presented
presidential campaign ads from 1952 to the present. There were no
commentaries, so viewers could take from the documentary what message
they found in the 75-minute collection.
I wondered whether the current $2 billion of presidential ads persuaded anyone. Such profuse and intensive ads are likely to force viewers to block them out as unwanted noise. Obama voters are not likely to be persuaded by Romney ads, and vice versa. $2 billion to convince three voters in Ohio? And for those who are truly undecided, won’t their decisions be based on concrete and idiosyncratic facts — their jobs, taxes, personal views about social issues?
The current crop of ads, and the overdose created by current campaign finance laws along with the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, might have led to so many political advertisements that they might simply cancel each other out.
Ronald Goldfarb is a Washington- and Miami-based attorney, author and literary agent.