Gabriel A. Fraire

With the start of the 2020 elections already underway I feel this need to address political advertising.

“Everything you own is because of advertising.” That’s what my cousin who spent a life in advertising says. My initial reaction was skepticism. But as I thought a second it seemed very accurate. Whether it’s packaging, placement or repetition, I think he is right. Everything we own is due to advertising. But I am afraid it is also true that everything that owns us is due to advertising. 
A big part of our current political chaos is because we are so easily manipulated. Politicians have always manipulated the voters but now they have learned the trick of advertising and use it to perfection. And the trick of advertising is, according to my cousin, “You create a problem then show how your product is the solution.”
“There are enemies at the southern border. My solution is a wall,” say the people wanting to manipulate us.
Advertising started when the first person had more of one thing than needed and spread the word, advertised, he/she had surplus to exchange. A weaver places extra baskets in front of his/her home. That is advertising. So, advertising has been with us as long as there have been people and surplus.
I read that commercial advertising began with newspapers. It was one of the first products that depended on advertising to support its efforts (and it is still true today). But initially the advertising was simply letting others know a product was available and where to find it. That has changed drastically. Today, advertising doesn’t simply present products, it manipulates people into buying them.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s a new industry blossomed — marketing. No longer was presenting a product good enough. The new industry was dedicated to making people need that product.
Things became more complicated when it was discovered that there were a variety of ways to manipulate mass markets. Psychology became a big part of the advertising game. We figured out that repeating ads over and over made them subconsciously stick in our brain. We learned that playing to a person’s ego or insecurities or fear made it easier to manipulate him or her.
Advertising became so effective that politicians began using the same strategies. We as a culture are locked into that non-stop advertising vehicle called television so the rest was easy.
A lot of today’s political chicanery is due to false advertising. Whether it is “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed or a candidate able to sway a large segment of the population with lies and deceit, we have become slaves to advertising and its manipulative ways. At times it appears as if no one can think for him or her self.
We have been conditioned by the television and advertising. We have been subconsciously trained to absorb the nonsense whether we believe it or not. And now, we can no longer discern truth from fiction.
We should stop watching television. That will never happen. We should see if we can get some truth back in advertising. That might be possible. We should stop political advertising. Those ads tend to be negative, half truths that even if we try to ignore them they are subconsciously drilled into our mind. Do you realize that the 2016 presidential candidates spent more than a billion dollars trying to get elected.
I don’t see an end to deceptive advertising. I don’t see an end to the manipulation of the masses. The only hope is awareness. Children need to be taught critical thinking. Adults need to stop believing what some TV talking head tells them.
There is always the opportunity for change but we have to want it.
 Gabriel A. Fraire has been a writer more than 45 years. He can be reached through his website at:

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