I have been taking a break from blogging to spend time with my grandson who is visiting for the summer. He is nine and has been asking about all the political advertising on television. Since the presidential race is a statistical tie here in Nevada, we are being inundated with ads from both campaigns and multiple political action committees.
Last night an ad for President Obama came on which criticized Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. My grandson said it was bad that Romney lost jobs in his state (according to the ad). I explained that advertisements from both sides pick the facts they want and often leave out little details to make things look a certain way. My point was proven in the next commercial break by a Romney ad claiming that, as governor, Romney had the best job creation record in a decade. I told my grandson that Romney could not have had both the best and worst record, and while it seemed both ads were talking about the same thing, the facts in each were different. The Obama ad cited Massachusetts’ position compared to other states; Romney’s ad compared job creation during his governorship with previous governors. Even if both claims were completely true, it might be that while Massachusetts was doing poorly, Romney had helped the state improve.
It is too bad we cannot require political advertising to quote facts in context, not in isolation. All these ads are really accomplishing is to further alienate voters and future voters by creating more confusion over important issues.
I am trying to be fair to both sides when explaining politics to my grandson. He is strongly influenced by his grandparents and I want him to know that I will always give him a true, unbiased answer to his questions. It is also more important that he learn to look at political advertising with a critical eye than it is that he agree with me.