Propaganda In ElectionsHave you ever seen a TV commercial portraying a disastrous automobileaccident, and then you reminds you to wear your seatbealts?!?! Believe it or not,that’s using a technique in propaganda called the fear appeal. Propaganda is more widespread than people picture. Propaganda is beingused for everything from the baby food you feed your child to the TV commercialyou laughed at yesterday night.
There are many techniques that a propagandist can use to seduce you. Some of the best known styles in propaganda are Plain Folk, Fear, Name Calling,and Glittering Generality,In this year’s elections, propaganda has played an important role in whowas elected. This year’s presidential candidates were all millionaires, but theyhave gone to great lengths to present themselves as ordinary citizens. BillClinton eats at Mc Donald’s and read a variety of spy novels. Bob Dole presentshimself as the “all American boy” from the Heartland.
In this two examples theplain folk device is at work. When either presidential candidates agitates the public’s fear ofimmigration, taxes, or crime and voting for him will reduce the threat he isusing the Fear Appeal. By playing on the public’s deep-seated fears,practitioners of this technique hopes to redirect the merits of a proposal andtowards steps that can be taken to reduce the fear. Propaganda has had a tremendously powerful role in the history of theworld and in our own development.
It has stirred both men and women tounprecedented feats and ruined reputations. What comes to mind when you think of a racist person? I imagine an angrywhite male with a Ku Kux Klan costume. I rarely think of the other racists, theAfrican-Americans, the Latino-Americans, the Asian-Americans and the rest ofwhom believe they are the superior race. Why do people as myself picture thisimage when we think of a racist person? I’ll tell you so, it’s because we havebeen “trained” to make the presumption racist equals white male in kkk costume. That’s the Name Calling device at work! It links a person to a negative idea orsymbol. Glittering Generality is in short Name Calling in reverse, while theName Calling device ties a person to a negative idea, the Glittering Generalitytechnique makes us approve and except something without careful examination.
Since war is especially distasteful, the military is of course full ofeuphemisms. In the 1940’s the US changed the name of the War Department to theDepartment of Defense. During the Reagon Administration, the MX-Missile, anuclear weapon, was re-named “The Peacekeeper”. In conclusion, as Alfred Lee once said, ” Propaganda is opinionexpressed for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals or groups. . .
Propaganda thus differs fundamentally from scientific analysis. The propagandisttries to “put something across,” good or bad. The scientist does not try to putanything across; he devotes his life to the discovery of new facts andprinciples. The propagandist seldom wants careful scrutiny and criticism; hisobject is to bring about a specific action. The scientist, on the other hand, isalways prepared for and wants the most careful scrutiny and criticism of hisfacts and ideas.
Science flourishes on criticism. Dangerous propaganda crumblesbefore it.” THE ENDHistory