The best political ad ever
When Thomas Paine declared, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he was not referring to today’s eternal political season — but he might as well have been. Be it signs along the highway, the deluge of television spots, or the relentless text messaging promising 1300% matching donations to whatever paltry sum you can muster up for your favorite candidate, the ads never end. Personally, my soul feels quite tried.
Throughout our history, there have been several ads that were highly effective, and likely made a difference in an election. People who saw the 1964 commercial (colloquially remembered as the ‘Daisy ad’) encouraging a vote for LBJ in the upcoming presidential election, which none too subtly suggested that Barry Goldwater would bring nuclear Armageddon to our nation, likely never forgot it. It was breathtaking in its message, and though shown only once during the campaign, it went down in history as the foremost example of effective, although far over the top, political advertising.
A Bush-Cheney ad featuring a wind-surfing John Kerry who seemed unable to decide in which direction he wanted to head, was quite effective in portraying Kerry as a flip-flopper, and certainly did him no good in his campaign of 2004.
I admit I have become increasingly cynical about the deluge of these ads.The typical spot spins the subject’s attributes to hyperbolic heights.They criticize and demean the opposition with ad hominem attacks that are often cringe-worthy. ‘Puffing the goods’ doesn’t begin to adequately describe the efforts of the spin meisters to show their ‘chosen one’ in a magnanimous fashion. Frankly, the overwhelming majority of political ads are nothing but garbage.
Today, however, I saw a political ad that brought my raging disdain for the genre to a screeching halt. It was an ad for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and featured his wife Casey. Set to the tone of a beautiful instrumental and a slide of old photographs, Casey told the audience who her husband was: first he was a young boy, catching a fish in the Florida waterways; he was a teenager, learning the value of a team while he played baseball; he was a soldier in service to his country; and at last he was a proud husband on his wedding day and a doting father to their precious children. But then, Casey shifts to the kind of man that her husband was when she received her cancer diagnosis, and at the root of it, identified his very essence and character to be one of self-sacrifice. It nearly brought tears to my eyes while watching. It was the best ad I have ever seen for a politician, and DeSantis’ opponent, the wind-sock Charlie Crist, is now, hopefully, toast. Watch and decide for yourself.
Bill Hansmann is a dentist and dental educator with over fifty years in the profession. He continues to teach and write political blogs and semi-mediocre novels while living with his wife and cats in Florida.
Image: Twitter video screen grab.