Sunday, October 28, 2012

Where's the Beef?

     In the spring of 1984, the Democratic primaries were heating up. Senator Gary Hart had gained the lead in the polls by criticizing his opponent, vice president Walter Mondale, as old fashioned. The younger and less experienced Hart was seen as more hip and ready to make changes to the current political climate. He used his image as a new style politician, and subversive rhetoric to polarize people against the current vice president. 

     During that same time, Wendy's fast food chain was launching a new campaign. This new ad campaign simply asked "Where's the beef". The advertisements and commercials were widely accepted and found their height in popularity during the height of the 1984 primaries. 

    Mondale realized he needed something to change the tide. He found what he needed during a debate when Hart was speaking for new style politics in accordance with his campaign against Mondale's old fashion ways. Mondale countered by saying "when I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of the ad, 'Where's the Beef'". 

A slogan was formed that became the basis for Mondale's campaign. It turned the tide too as Mondale took the lead and eventually the bid in the presidential primary. The slogan worked wonderfully as it polarized people both against Hart and against his ideas. The slogan questioned Hart's resume and experience; it asked if this man, who came out of Colorado without ever being heard of before, has the credentials needed to be president. It also asked Hart to focus on his policies and what he would do, rather than the flaws of the current political climate. It was an ideal polarizing slogan as well because it called for Hart to give up his own polarizing campaign, a call for moderation, while polarizing people against Hart at the same time. It said nothing for Mondale's claim, all it did was take away from Hart's.

    This year Wendy's returned to their old ad campaign with this commercial. 

Perhaps this could inspire voters today to wonder where the beef is in the current election. To wonder if there's more to a candidate than saying why his opponent doesn't deserve the election. Candidates could have advertisements promoting their own 'beef', rather than trying to destroy the credentials of their opponent. I see this slogan, used to degrade another candidate initially in 1984, as a call for moderation in the current political environment. I believe that if more candidates focused on themselves and their policies, rather than trying to say why not to vote for the opponent, that it could lead to a much more moderate nation.

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