Intense political campaigns often characterize the electioneering period in many societies across the world, as individuals seeking for elective posts attempt to interact with the electorate at a personal level.
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Campaign advocates attest that the socio-political process has numerous benefits to the electorate as well as leaders, whereas critics argue that campaigns are mere conduits of corruption and irresponsible use of scarce public or private resources, especially in developing countries (Ridout & Searles 444). The present paper provides several ways why campaigns matter.
The first way revolves around the issue of making political knowledge available to the public domain and discourse. Available literature demonstrates that the interactions stimulated by political campaigns provide the electorate with the opportunity not only to question the policies of the candidates seeking for elective posts, but also the manifestos and constitutions of their sponsoring parties (Biggers 998-1002).
This way, the electorate in a mature democracy is able to make informed choices on the type of leaders to select based on what they stand for. Access to political knowledge on the individuals seeking for elective posts therefore becomes a way through which voters can demonstrate their democratic rights by voting for the candidates who represents their needs, aspirations and expectations. Consequently, it can be argued that political campaigns are used as an educational tool for purposes of dispersing political knowledge to the electorate.
The second reason revolves around the issue of image construction, also known as political advertisement. Extant literature demonstrates that campaigns are used by many people seeking for elective posts to project a disposition that they identify with the needs affecting the electorate and are better placed to handle those needs once elected into office (Prasetyawan 310-312).
Of course critics have suggested that this assertion is not valid because candidates often project to the electorate an image that is totally different from their own selves and rely on the ignorance of the masses to sail through (Prasetyawan 311).
This assertion is valid, particularly in developing countries where politicians hoodwink the electorate into believing that their conscience is as pristine as the images disseminated by the media. However, the bottom-line is that campaigns are being used across the world to construct positive images of the candidates seeking for elective posts, and therefore endearing themselves more to the voters.
Lastly, campaigns matter by virtue of the fact they can be used by politicians and individuals seeking for elective posts to make emotional appeals to the electorate, with the view to persuade their political attitudes, electoral choices, as well as decision-making processes. Indeed, extant literature demonstrates that “…campaign managers must craft television advertisements that not only convey a message but simultaneously resonate with voters on an emotional level (Ridout & Searles 439).
In the 2004 United States presidential race, for instance, President Barrack Obama’s campaign secretariat employed ominous imagery to tap into the electorate’s emotions and anxieties about homeland security as well as the ongoing war against terror.
This way, the president was able to make memorable emotional appeals among the voters that he was better placed to handle critical issues of national security and war on terror than what was being promised by the Republicans. It can be argued that Obama rode on these issues, which were reinforced by his campaign strategists through the creation of emotional appeal, to secure the presidency.
Biggers, Daniel R. “Can a Social Issue Proposition increase Political Knowledge? Campaign Learning and the Educative Effects of Direct Democracy.” American Politics Research. 40.6 (2012): 998-1025. Academic Search Premier. Web.
Prasetyawan, Wahyu. “Image Construction in Politics: Political Advertisement in the 2009 Indonesia Election.” SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. 27.2 (2012): 310-327. Academic Search Premier. Web.
Ridout, Travis N., and Kathleen Searles. “Its my Campaign I’ll Cry if I want to: How and when Campaign use Emotional Appeals.” Political Psychology. 32.3 (2011): 439-458. Academic Search Premier. Web.