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Propaganda And The Future Of America


(Andrew Harnik / AP Photo)

Most of us aren’t delving into policy statements posted on candidates’ website. We should, but, we’re not. We’re also not reading in-depth reporting in the major papers. The fact is, most of the information we use to decide whom to vote for comes from TV – appearances, interviews, ads, and debates.Propaganda.

That’s why it’s absolutely critical to understand what the candidates are doing communication-wise so we don’t get tricked into voting for someone just because they seem like they’d be fun to have a beer with. Here are some of the things to look for:

1. Repetition. This is also known in my field as message discipline. Repeating a message over and over trains people to believe it. Be skeptical.

2. Folksy humor. A sense of humor is always a good thing, but just because someone is good at the down-home metaphors and sayings, doesn’t make him or her qualified to be president.

3. Entertainment factor. Similar to #2. The more entertaining a candidate is, the more likely we are to give him or her a pass when it comes to policy. Don’t.

4. Slogans. These are simple and repeatable. Some are inspiring. Some make you want to shout them out loud. They’re meant to make you feel good, like you have some power. But you don’t and they’re basically empty.

5. Personal Story. A.K.A., “back story,” this is the up-by-the-bootstraps story a candidate has to tell. In the communication circles, it’s known as the “hero journey.” Recall George W. Bush in his pickup truck with his dogs in tow clearing brush vs. John Kerry windsurfing off Nantucket. Even though Bush hails from political royalty, who do you think people felt was more like them?

6. Delivery. Refers to how candidates look, sound, move, and travel. If they are great speakers, they have a huge advantage in getting votes. It’s why I’m astonished when a candidate gives a poor performance. But, just because a candidate is a great speaker, doesn’t mean he’ll make a great president. Look beyond this.

These are just a few of the tricks of the trade. The more informed you are about them, the more you’ll be able to get to the truth about who these people are and what they can do for you and the country.

One thought on “Propaganda And The Future Of America”

  1. Thanks, Ruth and I agree with you, which is why I didn’t watch the “debates”/debacle! The “highlights” were bad enough!
    Please share with all of us the best sources for candidate backgrounds. At this time I think what our country needs is the most known and respected person who has contact with leaders of other countries. Also, having a deep awareness of the destructive nature of war and the determination to avoid war when possible.
    I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the negotiations with Iran.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the speaking skills of candidates that misrepresent their intentions to get elected.
    I appreciate your courage and convictions and we all need to hear more specifics from you!
    (I was raised in military family and my Dad survived the Bataan Death March, sinking of the Oryokko Maur and slave labor. I’ve studied the atrocities and the glories of WWII and I want someone in office who is aware of the suicide rates of our current soldiers on foreign soil who are not supported while serving and especially not being served AFTER returning.
    Is there such a candidate? We are losing our most dedicated, trained and patriotic young and experienced men and women
    by repeating the same procedures that continue to NOT work (begging locals to train to fight those who outnumber, betray their own or are slaughtered while being trained! And it’s done over and over again. How many need to be killed at police facilities? How many will desert or worse, turn on their American trainers?)
    I’m getting carried away.
    I see you as a courageous and out spoken woman who can make a HUGE difference in the world. We need you! Please continue to share your views! You have the connections and the courage to speak your truth and we all need to hear you!
    Sincerely, Barbara Smailey (

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