Campaign for Hope

Alexis Manrodt

As the presidential campaigns moved into their final stages, it was increasingly difficult for candidates to connect di-rectly with the average American voter. Advertising campaigns are relied upon to do what the candidates themselves can-not – enter the households, televisions and computer screens of the average vot-er, and communicate the core beliefs that drive their campaigns.

As is typical in any election, there have been a string of ads released by both President Obama and Governor Romney that aim political vitriol at each other, criticizing the other’s poli-cies and attacking their positions and perceived inconsistencies, but there is nothing inspiring in these mud-slinging tactics. Instead of attempting to emerge as the lesser of two evils, the candidates should re-focus their ad campaigns and return to the pure optimism that they have for the future of the country, a confidence in the American dream that made them the ideal representatives for their respective political parties in the first place.

President Obama’s 2008 campaign promised that the young senator was “change we can believe in.” In his bid for a second term as president, the Obama team has centered his campaign around just one word: “Forward.” The official ad debuting the new slogan was released in April of this year and seemed to be a continuation of the “Yes We Can” mentality that was a driving force behind Obama’s success-ful road to the White House four years ago. The ad campaign seems to say that the president’s desire to transform the country has not wavered, and it is his faith in change will move America forward into a new age. A visual con-nection between the two campaigns is made clear, as the “O” in “Forward” is imaged after the circular logo used extensively during the 2008 Obama- Biden campaign.

Governor Romney’s presidential cam-paign has been similarly framed around a call for hope and change. His adop-tion of the “Friday Night Lights” max-im “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” throughout the election process suggests an unyielding optimism on par with Obama’s own message of hope. But while the Governor’s appeal to the presidency has been popular among Republican supporters, Romney’s choice of words has not been met with as much enthu-siasm as the sentiments behind the cam-paign slogan. The Romney campaign has been criticized for using a catchphrase from the NBC football drama to appeal to vot-ers, perhaps most damn-ingly in a letter released by “The Hollywood Re-porter,” written by one of the creators of “Fri-day Night Lights,” Peter Berg, who accuses Gov-ernor Romney of plagia-rism by his invocation of the “clear eyes” phrase. What was intended to be an expressed fondness for the resilience of a small-town team and an appreciative homage of sorts to the show’s distillation of a kind of American dream into six simple words has turned into a contentious point in the Romney ad campaign.

Instead of running aggressive attack ads, the candidates should be remind-ing voters of the simplest hopes that the candidates have for the country, and that change is something that we all desire.

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