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The Role of Television in Elections

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Emerging from the 1960s television has played a significant role in presidential elections. Television has spawned a new era of presidencies in which they take the form of actors. Indeed media has made presidential elections less fair, yet it has enabled it to be more accessible. Through impacting the public on a larger scale than ever before in speeches and debates, presidents are required to appear as pleasing as possible. Thus image has become more influential over policy in the age of media. From the mid-1900s, television has been a common American household passtime.

Through the television, Americans from varying areas, could see the American political world, few that any had the ability to prior to this innovation. Campbell states that television has made, “a novel contribution to the political life of the nation. Large segments of the public have been given a new, immediate contact with political events”. (Source A) This is especially true according to the data provided in Source D which indicates that higher populations of the public watch presidential debates thus indicating that the public is more involved within our politics. According to Source A and Source D, it is evident that television has ultimately served to create a more accessible approach to the public’s involvement within the country’s politics.

A fact that both sides can agree on is that television remains to increasingly influential and has altered elections as society knows it. That fact is non-arguable. Television has made elections more accessible for all Americans. With this increased accessibility to presidential elections comes all of the negative effects, false ideal candidates and overlooking of policy.

It is clear that due to implementation of television to our elections it has proven that image of presidential candidates has taken precedence over policy. Menand states that “Kennedy’s ‘victory’ in the debates was largely a triumph of image over content.” (Source C) This is a direct statement supporting the fact that image has reigned supreme in the age of the television. Then again, Hart proclaims that, “because of television’s celebrity system, Presidents are.. often judged by standards formerly used to assess rock singers and movie stars.” (Source B) This also displays how the media has led presidents to be pursued in unjust perspectives of our society “…Because of the medium’s archly cynical worldview.” (Source B) Due to the radicality that spawns from the media it is evident why television can in part be dangerous. Rather than presidents pursuing content that is vital to the United States it has instead caused our society to be blinded by irrelevant aspects of our elections.

The office of president has been radically influenced by the invention and mass consumption of the television. It has ventured from the preconception that candidates who ran their campaigns are vain and has developed into the modern campaigning strategy in which we see today in our media. Television has caused presidents to value image over policy, but regardless it is American society that has caused this.

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