WHAT DOES THIS ARTICLE SUGGEST ABOUT THE FUTURE OF AUDIENCE COMMUNICATION CHARACTERISTICS?
Posted on Nov 1, 2012 in Gene Marbach At Large
Not long ago, a friend of mine posted the line, “I weep for the future of our nation,” on her Facebook page. I was immediately struck by the poignancy of that sentiment for I, too, am deeply concerned about the future of our nation.
I’ve come to accept the fact that civility died a long time ago. Our politicians provide ample proof of this as evidenced by the current election cycle. Mercifully approaching an end, this year’s campaigning seemed to be more vicious than in years prior. Name-calling, mudslinging, ad hominem attacks and empty sloganeering have replaced an earnest discussion of the issues save for the debates; however, some might argue that the candidates “danced” around the questions with many of their answers.
I’m concerned about our electorate, an electorate that, with precious few exceptions, seems to know more about the doings of Honey Boo Boo and A-Rod’s post-season batting average than the issues of the day and the key political figures behind them. Let me illustrate… Not long ago, I participated in an event during which the President’s State of the Union speech was to be analyzed by communications professionals. As the speech was being played on television sets throughout the room prior to the start of the event, a middle-aged woman leaned over to ask me, “Who are the two suits sitting behind the President?” In answering her, a fellow American, I add, I couldn’t help but think to myself that the “two suits” in question are heartbeats one and two behind the President.
While I don’t believe that everybody needs to be a “political junkie” in order to vote, I do think that it is critical to have some understanding of world events given the gravity of the issues we face. With the widespread availability of sources for news and information, it is relatively easy to stay abreast of current affairs. Of course, the cynics in our midst would be quick to point out that our elections have become little more than “popularity contests” and that looking good and speaking great sound bites will guarantee success. I’d like to think otherwise.
I’m also concerned with voter apathy. A recentGalluppoll suggests that voter turnout will be lower this year than the elections in 2008 and 2004 when 58% and 57% respectively turned out to vote, according to Federal Election Commission data. However, I’m heartened by the story of the World War II veteran, Frank Tanabe. Before passing away at 93, he cast his final ballot from his deathbed. His is an interesting story which has been widely covered by the media. His example is one for the ages.
In writing this I recognize that I might be preaching to the choir; however, I believe that there is a role for those of us in the communications business. We can steer candidates towards an honest discussion of the issues without resorting to some of the aforementioned tactics. We can aid in the education of the electorate through a widespread and fair use of the available media. I believe the future of our nation hinges in the balance.