Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Slogans and Polarization

Slogans: Polarization Cut Short?

Can Skimming a Slogan Change Public Opinion?
Dwight Eisenhower used the slogan "I Like Ike"
in 1952 and it has become one of the
most recognizable slogans to date. 
       Throughout history there has always been a need for political figures and businesses, alike, to get a message across in a few simple words: a slogan. In politics there has been an evident shift in the format and wordings of slogans in the political realm. Is this because of a demand to reach the public faster and more often with less depth or is it to draw them in to learn about the real issues and values of a candidate?

     Along with political figures using slogans for their own promotion, there is also the idea of businesses or networks, such as YouTube, using slogans to intrigue people to post their own ideas and debates that do effect the politicians as well. Visual debates can be lumped in with the issues of depth-lacking arguments as well. Arguments or opinions based purely on images can be as dangerous as ones made by slogans because of their emptiness and polarized nature. 

Positives and Negatives Can Be Shown

     As well as official political slogans being used to enhance a candidates image or likability, they can also be used to hinder an opponent. As in this political button, it is evident that hate slogans can be very damaging and absurd, but also effective. In 1964, Barry Goldwater's slogan "In Your Heart, You Know He's Right" was parodied with "In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts" which is thought to have had a large impact on his loss in the election. Mainly, politicians can use a slogan to try to associate with positive prior opinions within the public or dissociate with figures they don't want to impair their image. This impression that politicians give the public in a sentence or phrase can shape judgments as quickly as if they were meeting them for the first time.  

Why Are Slogans Effective?

      In a guide to writing political slogans, there are key components addressed that make for a successful slogan. These include 'Tie it to Your Message', 'Tap into Core Human Values', 'Make it Memorable', and 'Get The Word Out'. Coincidentally, the same steps can be taken to make a slogan against an opponent as well. Whichever way the slogan is used, it is proven in marketing that the best way for a product or candidate to be memorable is with a slogan or platform that is easy to remember. 

     This series of Conan O'Brian montages of Obama and Romney campaign slogan ideas is an extreme example of some of the ridiculous ideas candidates use in elections. Conversely, these parodies reflect the way negative slogans can be started, and effective, because of the humor and appeal to the opposition of each candidate. 

Messages Sent For Public Action

     In this years 2012 Presidential election, the main focus in the area of slogans was to live up to, or outshine, Obama's successful 2008 slogans of "Change We Can Believe In" and "Yes We Can". Obama has developed "Forward" to illustrate an image of furthering his current process of turning America around again and Romney has established "Believe In America" to say America needs a new hope. Both of these statements imply the need for public opinion to change the decision of the election, which is vital; however, both imply a divergence from the state we are currently in. 

Why Is This Polarization Bad For America?
     Amy Gutmann argued in "The Lures of Extremist Rhetoric" that is it easier for people to believe passionately in a standpoint lacking reasoned argument, probabilistic evidence, and tested scientific theory or fact. These single-minded visions for societal changes can make it seem more comfortable than complex, uncertain ideas that go against the grain. Slogans allow for this to happen because of their concise, uneducated solicitations of Americans. Following a phrase or one word slogan into the poles could be detrimental to American politics if the population will eagerly follow slogans instead of solid ideals. 

Is There A Solution In Sight?

     In my opinion, there is no solution to this polarizing problem. While it might polarize and skew voters more than it should, the polarization present in slogan tactics is a vital component of any campaign. The general idea of a slogan, I believe, started out with good intentions and spiraled from there, like a majority of political strategies. Getting a general message of a candidate's position out to the public is a necessary element for memorability. The catch is that Americans need to remember the slogans, but then look into what this slogan is standing for as well as what the candidate himself or herself is standing for. Overall: listen to the slogans, then learn the standpoints.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked your article! It was really nice how you gave many examples, verbal and visual, of what you were talking about. It was even better that you gave examples from multiple time periods because it really got your point across. Lastly, I liked how you talked about what slogans were, presented why it was or wasn't a problem, provided many concrete examples, and then presented your view of a solution.