Tag Archives: fear

Learning from the past – Fear wins

So, ever since I heard about livingroomcandidate.org on Slate’s Political Gabfest, I’ve been hooked. It’s a roundup of almost all of the presidential ads since 1952. Some of the ads are pure genius (and sick) like this one, which basically said, “Vote for Johnson, or die”:

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However, for the Obama Campaign, I think several tactics can be learned from watching these videos. The first, and maybe most relevant ad, comes from none other than the prez himself:

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Message: Lie about what you bring, and disparage everything about the other candidate without even mentioning his name.
My Obama recommendation: [Kids playing in the backyard; Michelle Obama sitting next to Barack smiling] Too many Americans are out of work. Crime is on the rise. Sons and daughters are dying to support a nation that has asked Americans to get out. It’s time for a change. It’s time for hope and honesty to reign in Washington. I believe I’m the man to do this job.

But don’t talk about things that the average voter won’t get, such as a candidate’s past record (unless it has something to do with the death penalty and crime, military spending and immigration):

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Now take a look at this ad by Bush:

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My Take: Al Gore didn’t win Ohio in 2000 because he didn’t scare the average voter.

Advice: [Oil fields pumping in Saudi Arabia. Images of women getting stoned and men getting beheaded. Troops getting shot at in Baghdad. Finish with an image of Osama Bin Laden. Obama voice over.] In an era of war, we need a leader who will not back down to our supposed allies in the Middle East who allow the terrorists to run free in their hills. We can not allow our allies to terrorize their citizens because we depend on their oil. We cannot send our troops into battle without body armor or batteries to power night vision goggles. And most importantly, we cannot allow enemy No. 1 to roam free in the mountains of Pakistan. As president, I will defend this nation and hunt down the terrorists where they are.

Here’s another ad from a winning Democrat:

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My take: Take on a Republican scare issue, or several issues, and embrace them.

Advice: [Begin with Osama’s face] Terrorism is our No. 1 enemy. A dependence on oil from the Middle East is No. 2. That’s why I support a temporary increase in offshore drilling, the exploration of new nuclear power plants, and the development of clean-burning coal. We’ll need these valuable resources while we transition the United States to a new kind of energy.

Advice No. 2: [The Mexican border fence. People crawling through the mud.] We need to do a better job securing our borders. Every year billions of dollars in drugs cross into the United States. Illegal immigrants are taking Jobs away from legal immigrants and hard-working Americans. And shady employers do this because they can pay the illegal immigrants a third of what they’d have to pay legalized citizens. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to make it easier for immigrants to come to the United States legally. We need to give the children of immigrants the chance to fulfill the American dream. My opponent, after originally supporting immigration reform, now opposes it because he kowtowed to the Republican base. You won’t ever see that happen with me.

And finally, the Obama must avoid complicated issues:

Furloughs

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Environmental issues not focused on terrorism:

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And finally, don’t get caught doing something that doesn’t befit a candidate’s stature:
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Fear is a candidate’s most powerful tool. I’m not sure if Barack Obama can make it central to his campaign, which has been based on the theme of “hope.” But I think he needs to take on one of the fear issues that he has an advantage on: terrorism, immigration, crime in the United States, the war in Afghanistan. Without scaring the American voter and reminding them constantly that Bin Laden is still alive, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, and the dependence on foreign oil, Obama might not win this very winnable election.

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