Will you support restriction of government funds for political election purposes?

“Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them” by Susan Delacourt is a frightening look at the use by the political parties of marketing and advertising to influence voters. The political parties obviously have a very low opinion of the people from whom they are “shopping for votes”, as well as for their elected representatives, to assume that they should be influenced that way. The same advertising methods that are used to sell cheap, unhealthy, unneeded and overpriced products are being employed to sell the political parties. And they are using our tax dollars to do it.

As one reviewer of the book said “Where once politics was seen as a public service, increasingly it’s seen as a business, and citizens are considered customers. But its unadvertised products are voter apathy and gutless public policy.” The advertising methods base its appeal on the worst of public traits. Their greed and something for nothing wishes. The advertising sees the public as nothing but “an open mouth, the Government a ladle”. The same methods used by the advertisers and marketers to sell products are used to influence voters. But with the difference that the political parties use methods that are outlawed by the codes of Advertising councils.

There is no need for taxpayers to pay for the selling of themselves by the political parties. Constituents, “the taxpayers”, need only know the credentials and ability of the candidates from whom they must select the one to represent them in the legislative body. Advertising, directed by marketing research, does not distribute this knowledge. The millions of taxpayers money provided to the political parties as tax rebates for donations or as payment of electioneering expenses is of no benefit for voters, only for the political parties. The voters only need to know the credentials and ability of the candidates, which can be provided by clearly stated qualifications and answers to questions by constituents circulated only within the constituency to be represented by the candidate chosen.

Citizens should not have to pay for the advertising that most find unwanted and offensive. The use of political advertising as it is practiced today is worse than the condemned practice of gift giving in previous years. The gift giving had little effect on voting, although it did result in better rates of voter participation, whereas the targeted advertising of today is meant to control the mind, and is turning citizens against participation. The lack of substance in political advertising does not inform and assist voters in making knowledgeable choices of candidate. Other than blind support for ones political party, the decision by voters should be from knowledge, not from mindless advertising.