Cost and effect

Mitchell Matacia | Chronicle Alumni

Deception has become an effective tool in this 2012 presidential race. It allows the Republican and Democratic parties to gain field advantage among voters, and it seems to be working—but at a cost.

Mr. Romney, for one, is using a speech taken out of context to fuel his supporters. The “We built it” chant became a central theme in the Republican National Convention after President Obama’s speech, describing the process of American success, was distorted. The Republican Campaign accuses Mr. Obama of discrediting the American working class by saying that Mr. Obama didn’t believe citizens built their success. With context, Mr. Obama’s message becomes clearer.

Here is what President Obama was actually saying in his speech:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” said Mr. Obama in a speech in Roanoke. “There was a great teacher somewhere in your life, somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have, that allowed you to thrive, somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.”

Even then, the “We built it” phrase has been crafted to show Mr. Obama not to deny hardworking Americans, despite the fact that he didn’t deny them in the first place. It’s evident that Mr. Romney is pulling for the blue-collar voting pool with his campaign’s latest spin.

Similarly, an independent Super Pac known as “Priorities USA Action,” is looking to inspire the working class, but is backing Mr. Obama’s campaign. The Super Pac released an ad featuring a man named Joe Soptic who lost his wife to cancer. Apparently, this is because the steel mill Soptic worked at was shut down by Romney’s company, Bain Capital.

Here is a quote from the ad:

“When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant I lost my healthcare and my family lost their healthcare, and a short time after that my wife became ill,” the ad says. “I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia and that’s when they found the cancer, by then it was stage four. There was nothing they could do for her and she passed away in 22 days.”

The ad insinuates that because Soptic lost his healthcare, he couldn’t pay for his wife’s cancer treatments, resulting in her death.

However, CNN reported that even though Soptic lost his job, his wife was still on her own employer’s insurance until she had to leave from a work injury, unspecified as to whether it was related to her illness. Yet, Soptic’s wife was diagnosed with cancer five years after the steel plant shut down and died 22 days after her initial diagnosis.

The story is sad, but it doesn’t change the fact that the ad displayed a biased distortion of events. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the public has been seeing more of from both sides. Ads are unreliable, news sources have an agenda and even the word of a candidate can become a falsehood. When parties aren’t following through with their words and distorting facts, it can bring on an apathetic attitude to citizens looking to vote consciously and morally.

The two-party system is failing because we allow this to happen. Either side has the ability to sway our opinions by the use of deception and vague promises that ultimately amount to nothing but words. Theses propaganda messages don’t mean a thing, but they do to us as citizens because we invest in them without exploring the actual issues of the day. We have become hungry dogs that leap at every crumb that’s dropped and every bone that’s thrown our way, without checking to see where it came from.

Sure, it’s great to have something to chant and it’s great to believe in something, but not everything is true. Everybody has a priority. Candidates have a priority to become elected and we have a priority to understand when there’s propaganda and when there’s fact. When we do this, we challenge the campaigns to produce valid arguments and we establish a more responsible generation of voters.

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