Morning in America (left) is the common name of a political adverisment used by Ronald Reagan in the 1984 US presidential election. Officially entitled Prouder, Stronger, Better, the optimistic tone of the advertisment made it one of the most effective political campaign advertisments ever made (and went hand in hand with another famous political advertisment critical of his opponent). It is an advertisment that comes to mind whenever I think about political advertising.
Following on from yesterday’s post, here are three quick updates on political advertising.
Madam, – A proposal to alter the restrictions on political and religious advertising is long overdue (News, November 16th). The decision, some weeks ago, by RTÉ to ban a fundraising advertisement by the Shell to Sea campaign is an indication of the folly which underlies this ban. Defining what comes under the scope of a political campaign is a delicate but, ultimately, subjective judgement.
An oil company or car manufacturer advertising a “green” approach to business is a highly political act. But our current system views commercial interests as if they existed in a political vacuum.
The US system, where political advertising becomes a function of profits is, of course, wholly undesirable. But the current legislation creates an environment where advocates of the profit-first approach to building a society are given free rein over the airwaves while proponents of an alternative viewpoint are restricted.
Surely we can find a middle ground which accommodates legitimate commercial advertising, allows freedom of speech but doesn’t allow the airwaves to be taken over by political organisations. – Yours, etc,
Third, Rick Hasen has just posted an excellent discussion of US campaign finance/political advertising laws on SSRN:
… The potential for quid pro quo corruption of candidates appears to remain low, thanks to a series of laws imposing contribution limits. Sale of access to candidates, however, remains a feature of U.S. presidential elections even post-BCRA. From the standpoint of political equality, the transformation offers a mixed bag with somewhat offsetting effects. Thus, the collapse of the public financing system may have anti-egalitarian effects, but those effects are somewhat militated by the rise of micro-donors. The end of soft money and the rise of outside non-party political organizations in theory could lead to weakened political parties, but continued polarization of the electorate have kept parties thriving even under BCRA and the shifting constitutional ground rules of the U.S. Supreme Court.