Chomsky: Is There Truth in Obama's Advertising?
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What he had was an army that he organized of people who got out the vote for Obama. For what the press calls, Brand Obama. They essentially agree with the advertisers, it's brand Obama. That his army was mobilized to bring him to office. They regard that as a good thing, accepting the Lippman conception of democracy, the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders are supposed to do what they're told and then go home. The Wall Street Journal, at the opposite end of the spectrum, also had an article about the same thing at roughly the same time. Talked about the tremendous grassroots army that has been developed, which is now waiting for instructions. What should they do next to press forward Obama's agenda? Whatever that is. But whatever it is, the army's supposed to be out there taking instructions, and press work. Los Angeles Times had similar articles, and there are others. What they don't seem to realize is what they're describing, the ideal of what they're describing, is dictatorship, not democracy. Democracy, at least not in the Lippman sense, it proved -- I pick him out because he's so famous, but it's a standard position. But in the sense of say, much of the south, where mass popular movements developed programs; organize to take part in elections but that's one part of an ongoing process. And brings somebody from their own ranks to implement the programs that they develop, and if the person doesn't they're out. Ok, that's another kind of democracy. So it's up to us to choose which kind of democracy we want. And again, that will determine what comes next.
Well, what can we anticipate if the popular army, the grassroots army, decides to accept the function of spectators of action rather than participants? There's two kinds of evidence. There's rhetoric and there's action. The rhetoric, you know, is very uplifting: change, hope, and so on. Change was kind of reflective any party manager this year who read the polls, including the ones I cited, would instantly conclude that our theme in the election has to be change. Because people hate what's going on for good reasons. So the theme is change. In fact, both parties put both of them, the theme was change. So the theme is change. In fact both parties, both of them the theme was change. You know, break from the past, none of old politics, new things are going to happen. The Obama campaign did better so they won the marketing award, not the McCain campaign.
And notice incidentally on the side that the institutions that run the elections, public relations industry, advertisers, they have a role -- their major role is commercial advertising. I mean, selling a candidate is kind of a side rule. In commercial advertising as everybody knows, everybody who has ever looked at a television program, the advertising is not intended to provide information about the product, all right? I don't have to go on about that. It's obvious. The point of the advertising is to delude people with the imagery and, you know, tales of a football player, sexy actress, who you know, drives to the moon in a car or something like that. But, that's certainly not to inform people. In fact, it's to keep people uninformed.
The goal of advertising is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. Those of you who suffered through an economics course know that markets are supposed to be based on informed consumers making rational choices. But industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to undermine markets and to ensure, you know, to get uninformed consumers making irrational choices.