Government response question In the 1990’s presidential election campaigns have become more candidate centered and less focused on issue and party labels. This change has been attributed both...
In the 1990’s presidential election campaigns have become more candidate centered and less focused on issue and party labels. This change has been attributed both to how the media cover presidential campaigns and to how candidates use the media.
Please discuss ways that this has happened.
Your help is much appreciated!
Personality issues and attacks are not new in American politics; yet with the expansive reach of the media; the American public is more exposed to this information than before. During his Presidential campaign, Thomas Jefferson was labeled an atheist and a Jacobin, Grover Cleveland was accused of having fathered a child out of wedlock; and during the 1960 campaign, tremendous attention was paid to John Kennedy's Catholicism. It is a sad element of human nature that we tend to dwell on the seamy side of life, and quietly gloat at other people's shortcomings. The press is well aware of this, and since bad news sells more newspapers than good, they dwell on those elements that draw attention from the public at large. If there is more attention to candidates and less to issues, it is because the Press no longer shapes debate on ideas; but rather discusses personalities.
There's many questions in that post for a discussion board, but I'll get you started and maybe someone else can help you finish.
The media since the 1990s, in my opinion, has largely turned away from talking about election issues, and spent much more time focusing on personalities, on the histories and scandals of individual candidates, and on either finding conflict to cover between candidates or manufacturing conflict if they can't. They are chasing ratings as opposed to serving the public discourse, so this has inevitably led to more focus on just individual candidates themselves.
The media focus has come to be more on the "horse race" than it used to be. The media has decided to pay more attention to the issue of who is winning and what sort of strategies each candidate should pursue. This has happened as the media industry has become more competitive and money conscious. They need to get more ratings/readers for less spending and focusing on the candidates and the horse race is more understandable to consumers and simpler to report.
Elections are populariy contests. All candidates have their web sites and supposedly their platforms are there for anyone to find, yet instead we vote for who is more attractive or better-spoken. People didn't want to vote for Clinton because she seemed pushy. McCain was too old, Obama too young and so on. Since campaigns are on TV, your candidate has too look distinguished, honest and attrative. Issues take a backseat.
The candidates and the media are less issue oriented. Both the media and many candidates are so focused on disseminating negative information that it seems as if there is little time to discuss the real issues. In addition, candidates can little afford to be honest about their thoughts and feelings on the issues, as the truth is rarely what voters find palatible.
I would also say that the candidates themselves are less focused on the issues than they were in the past. I think that more and more the election and campaign process is carried out in sound bytes that can be shown quickly without much else to go with it.