Monday, November 12, 2007

Smear Campaign

After a presentation on sense perception in politics last week, I have been very intrigued by the role that smear campaigns play in the election of our political officers. As someone who has helped several candidates run for office in the House of Representatives, I wonder how effective and fair smear campaigns are. Everyone has a few skeletons in their closet, but most skeletons have little or now correlation to the way that the politician would run/aid in running our country.

Here are some interesting links that I found about smear campaigns and when/how they have been used:

My questions are:
-If we didn’t use our visual sense perception would smear campaigns still be affective and would the exterior appearance of the politician play such a key role in their election to office?
-Although smear campaigns (usually containing information taken out of context) are usually not properly justified true beliefs, why do people believe them?
-With the intense amount of press associated with political elections is all the information that we receive on the politicians too much knowledge or an invasion of privacy?
-Are politicians today playing the “emotion” card, by trying to visually appeal to the public or does the logic of the politician play a greater role?
-Finally, do you think that our country will ever elect a woman, a black person, a heavier person, or some type of minority as president?

Feel free to answer any of the questions or post any comments. Thanks, Rebecca Levy


Rick_Andrews_Director said...

1. I think smear campaign would still work even if we didn't use our visual sense perception, because there is the fact that there are many smear campaigns put on the radio (The radio was actually where I first learned about them), so our hearing sense perception is still used. However, pictures in television ads speak greater volumes than simply hearing it. The smear campaigns would still work, but would not be as effective because of our dependency on our visual sense perception.

2. One could simply argue that "People believe anything they see on TV", but it goes deeper than that. We believe the smear campaigns because they are an authority, and like it or not, many people find it pragmatic to believe authorities. Also, because part of the smear campaign has truth to it, it makes the people making the add seem reliable.

3. I think that to an extent it is an invasion of privacy. I mean, many politicians are attacked because they had a bad divorce or some other family problem. To me, that is an invasion of privacy, that is the politicians personal business and has part in politics. At the same time, I think it is important to know what decisions they have made in earlier political offices and so forth. I don't really know where I stand on this issue, which could be considered a knowledge issue, but those are some of my thoughts on the issue.

4. I think the smear campaigns really do play on emotions, because they are intended to make you feel a certain way towards that politician (Hatred, Frustration, Dissatisfaction, etc.). However, being someone that values logic over emotion I do have a bias towards using the "emotion card". However, I still feel that smear campaigns are an emotion based concept.

5. I'll keep this brief. I do believe that we will elect a minority as president some day, large or small. The door is always open in my book. Also, we have been taught for a great amount of years about how it is wrong to discriminate, so I think that eventually it could happen. But that's just me being idealistic...

Sorry that was so long, but it was a lot of questions to answer...

J.Malone said...


It would be interesting to post a similar post on the international blog to get a perspective as to how campaigns work in other countries.

katrina337 said...

1. Smear campaigns probably wouldn't be as effective, but they would still serve a purpose. And I believe it would be a hinderance to completely get rid of visual perception in politics.

2. I think most of the people that believe them are the ones looking for a reason to hate the other candidate. That's just my observation, I could be completely wrong.

3. I don't know. I somewhat agree that we should really get to know our politicians, but they also deserve to have a private life. So I'm kind of in the middle.

4. I think that there is some sense of them trying to appeal to the general public visually, but I think logic still plays a rather large part.

5. I would hope so. At this point, I can't really tell.

shilpa said...

1. I think that if we didn't use our visual sense perception, we wouldn't get as much out of smear campaigns as we would if we used our sight. I think that the derogatory claims that are made about politicians during smear campaigns would still help us formulate opinions regarding the politician. Also, I think that we would pay more attention to the politician's way of speaking, for isntnace, rather than their appearance if we didn't use sight.

2. I think that this addresses the knowledge issue of availability. It is easier for someone to listen to a smear campaign, which is easily accessible on the television, rather than conducting their own research on politicians which would be more difficult to do. Therefore, I think people often fall into the "I don't have the time" trap and believe in smear campaigns.

3. I don't think that ALL of the information that we are given about politicians is an invasion of privacy. For instance, I think that it is important for the general public to receive information on the opinions of politicians and where they stand on certain issues. However, I don't think that the public needs to know every little detail of a politician's personal life. Several people will claim that it is important for us to know about a politician's personal life to determine their effectiveness as a leader, but politiicans are still humans and will have their flaws as well.

4. I think that politicians are using both logic and emotion in their campaigns. They show their sense of logic by stating their oponions on issues and justifying them with facts but they also use emotion to try and win people over. For instance, Hillary Clinton is wearing pink to show her support of breast cancer, thus using visual perception to draw emotion from her voters on an important issue.

5. I hope that the U.S. will be able to take this step in politics but I am not sure if it will actually happen or not because it would be breaking the tradition of having a white male ruling our country.