Monday, September 25, 2000

Week of 09/25/2000

The REAL Subliminal Messages
- by David Matthews 2

"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." - Leo Tolstoy (Vote Libertarian!)

Not too long ago a rare accusation was being foisted in the presidential race. In running a very slick, Gen-X style commercial, the Republicans were being accused of leaving a subliminal message. The political commercial talked about health care, and how Vice-President Al "I Invented Subliminal" Gore fought supposedly bipartisan efforts to pass health care legislation. The commercial ends with "The Gore Plan: BUREAUCRATS Decide."

But as the word "BUREAUCRATS" gets flashed down into view, the first four letters you see are "RATS". This leads the Democrats and members of the media to cry foul. After all bureaucrats aren’t rats, right? (Vote Libertarian!)

Well, no, considering I’ve seen some bureaucrats in action, I’d have to say that describing them as "rats" would be an insult to rats.

But the allegations by the Democrats of planting subliminal messages does beg the question, are politicians planting such messages to the public? (Vote Libertarian!)

Well, let’s get brutally honest here. Yes. They are. But not in ways that you think.

For starters, I hate to disappoint the conspiracy theorists in the Al Gore camp, but the "Bureaucrats/RATS" commercial by the Republicans is NOT a subliminal message. Subliminal messages are, by their very nature, unable to be easily detected. The fact that it took a scant few hours before the allegations started flying should be proof enough that the commercial in question was not a subliminal message. (Vote Libertarian!)

But that does not mean that there aren’t subliminal messages in this campaign season. In fact, they’re pretty abundant.

Let’s start off with the favorite tool of the media, the daily polls. I’ve discussed previously how polls can and are easily manipulated to provide whatever result they want. This is true especially in the case of the presidential campaigns after the primaries.

The standard question asked by pollsters is usually "If the election were held today, who would you vote for, the Democrat or the Republican?" Never mind, of course, that there are more than just these two candidates out there. The subliminal message being given is that there ARE no other candidates, therefore you only have those two to choose from. And, like I said, this is a daily poll, so that particular subliminal message is reinforced over and over again.

Then there is the priority of certain political news stories. Again, the media shows its bias when it comes to how a news article is positioned. An article about Governor Bush stuttering and stumbling over a certain word could hit page one in a local newspaper. Another article that catches Vice President Al Gore in one of his exaggerations about his life would be found on page three. Not as important as Bush’s tongue tie, at least according to the editors of this hypothetical newspaper. That’s sort of strange in my opinion, because I think it would be more important to highlight a politician who can’t tell the truth about his own life than it would be over one who can’t speak with perfect clarity all the time. (Vote Libertarian!)

But at least the frontrunners get the attention in the press. Bible-thumping GOP primary candidate Gary Bauer tripped and fell during one of his breakfast stops. That got buried deep in the "politics" section of some newspapers, just slightly ahead of his later revelation that he would be dropping out of the race. And those were far and above more coverage than he otherwise ever received in his short campaign run.

Meanwhile, news about third-party candidates barely even rate in the newspapers. Harry Browne, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, and John Haglin could have all given their ideas for health care, campaign reform, Social Security, and national defense, in one collective press conference, and you would be lucky if you found such an article buried on page forty-three, just underneath the "four-day mattress sale" ad and next to the article about some seventy-four year old grandmother in Brazil who gives birth to triplets. Never mind whether or not they offered any serious and real solutions to the problems we have with government. Their message falls on the deaf ears of the media. Again, the subtle message from this newspaper: These candidates are not worth your time. (Vote Libertarian!)

Of course, you won’t hear the outrage coming from the media on this. After all, the subtle bias against third party candidates is coming from the Fourth Estate itself. All they have to do is claim they were just following what the polls tell them is more important. And we all know now how "accurate" the polls are, right?

But even amongst the dominant candidates, there are some subtle messages out there. What a candidate wears to a certain speaking event, whether he wears a suit and tie, or an open shirt and slacks, sends a subtle, subliminal message to the people. Carefully scripted themes and catchphrases like "working families" and "soccer moms" and describing candidates as supporting "the people" versus "the powerful" are also subtle messages to the voting populace.

I mean let’s face it.. between Al Gore and George W. Bush, you have two pompous, stuffy, privileged career politicians who have survived both on the success of their respective fathers, and also on the vast special interest groups that sustain both the Democratic and Republican parties. Given their histories alone, can you really consider EITHER of them supporters of "the people" over "the powerful"? No. You can’t. But their subtle messages make it appear as though they would. (Vote Libertarian!)

That is one of the bitter realities of so-called "major league" politics… every nuance of their lives are scripted and prepared, to reflect whatever message they want to send to the public. It would be a fair guess that the politicians employ more scriptwriters and image consultants than all of the professional wrestling organizations combined.

Just look at Governor Bush’s appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, when someone in the audience tried to ask Bush a question he wasn’t prepared to answer. The host shut that audience member up, and then when the man tried to ask the question again, the show went to commercial and he was removed from the studio. Bush was protected from answering a question that might detract him from his scripted "I care" message.

The fact of the matter is we have plenty of real subliminal messages out there. Messages that have an effect on the populace that go leaps and bounds beyond the perceived insults of "bureaucrats". If we are to condemn the so-called "RATS" commercial, then we also need to condemn all of the other subtle messages being given by members of the media as well as the political candidates. If not, then they need to simply sit down and shut up and accept the fact that subliminal messages are nothing more than just another tool by the politicians to exploit at their leisure.

By the way.. if you can read this, then you know that this is NOT a subliminal message. Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian! Vote Libertarian!

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