I’M HOWIE BAROKAS AND I APPROVE THIS MESSAGE.

October 26, 2010

I can’t take it anymore. I’d rather someone take me out behind the building and beat me with pan rather than listen to or watch one more political ad sponsored by one liar about another liar. Is it really necessary? Do they really need to spend so much money insulting the other? Typically I enjoy election season as I assume most in the PR business do. After all, it’s a case-study in positioning and a test of who can stick to their speaking points while creating FUD (fear – uncertainty – and doubt) about their opponent. But this year is much nastier than previous elections. Why? Is there really more at stake than previous elections? Yes, the economy is suffering and yes unemployment numbers are high (pssst: we’re hiring smart tech PR people), Â but is the outcome of *this* election really going to have a cataclysmic impact on the way things are? I think not.

In Washington State we have many hot contests which would explain why President Obama, President Clinton, Vice President Biden, and Michelle Obama have all visited the Emerald City recently. Although many of the races are heated contests, none are as smokin hot as the Senate race between 2-time loser Dino Rossi and 15-year Senator Patty Murray. These two candidates must have purchased every bit of TV inventory across all local stations in Washington State in an attempt to spread their venom about the other. Dino claims Patty has worked well for Washington, but not Washington State. She claims he owned a bank that did shady deals and he’ll take away women’s right to choose (abortion). My guess is, they’re both wrong and they are both right. If elected, neither will have a big impact on anything. That’s not just true here in Washington, but in all 50 states. I’m not saying don’t vote, I’m simply stating the obvious which is: no matter who gets elected, not much is going to get done. Why? Because they’ll spend time explaining that they inherited a mess and it’ll take longer than their term to fix it (which is why they’ll ask for your vote in a few more years too).  While it’s utterly ridiculous to hear Patty and Dino fight it out, I find what’s going on in other parts of the country fascinating; pure entertainment really. Take for example the Senate race in Kentucky between (d) Jack Conway and (r) Rand Paul. Conway has launched an attack campaign called WHY? where he asks why Rand Paul was part of a secret underground society called Aqua Buddha and why he tied a woman up (25 years ago, and she consented).

Does any of this matter? Is any of this going to help people stay in their homes? Is this going to help people find work? No, no, and no! In a Florida congressional race Rep. Alan Grayson dropped the “T word” in an attack ad. He said “Taliban Dan Webster: Hands off our body – and our laws.”

It’s fun to watch adults act like children and the dirty laundry is priceless. To the candidates I’d say (borrowing once again from Don Draper) “If you don’t like what is being said change the conversation.” Example – candidate 1 to candidate 2: “You’ve backed every law the hypocrite party has sponsored -why should the voters expect any different if you’re re-elected?” Candidate 2 responds by saying “I think what the voters really need to think about is do they want someone in office who has a history of domestic violence and multiple alcohol related traffic infractions?” Â See, the conversation changed – no one is thinking about the voting record of candidate 2. Amazing – huh? This is what makes PR so fun – it’s like election season 365 days a year.

There is much to be learned from the 2010 elections and most of it, in my humble opinion, has little or nothing to do with putting the right people in the right positions. It’s a giant crash course in PR – things you’d never learn from PRSA or by sitting through a semester long PR course. This is pure info-tainment with all the key ingredients; sex, lies, religion, fear, and money. As we head down the home stretch of the 2010 elections I’m looking forward to hearing what the candidates have been holding back – the bombs they’ll drop just hours before the votes are cast. And just when we think it’s over – it gets even better (like the clips in The Hangover when the credits roll). The concession speeches start along with the acceptance speeches. More BS about their “formidable opponents” fighting a “tough campaign” all in the interest of the “greater good” and how it’s time to “get to work” and put “politics aside.” Â Kinda sounds like a press release saying a CEO is leaving to “spend more time with his family.” I rescind my previous statement; I do like this stuff – and I want to see more and I want it to get nastier.

May the best man/woman win – and may the best laws be passed. And if not, we get to do it all over again in 2 years.

Howie

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