NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 12, 2012

Propaganda machines in high gear

We come now to the final stretching of propaganda in electioneering to choose those who will govern us after the turn of the year.

Nourished by the seemingly inexhaustible flood of money by a Supreme Court ruling that its use is a form of speech and therefore free of restriction, propaganda floods the political landscape.

It always has, but historically considered it is only the exceptional amounts of money and the modern means of communication that differentiates this election from those beginning with this nation’s early thrusting between, say, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.

Propaganda’s taproot was formalized by the creation of the College of Propaganda by Urban VIII in the early 17th century to educate priests for their missions. Essentially, it was, and remains, a means of advancing doctrines.

The degradation of propaganda was taken to its most lethal level by Joseph Goebbels and Adolph Hitler, which led, eventually, to the massive slaughters of World War II and, ultimately, their suicides.

Its use in our elections leads either to a change of political leadership or its continuation.

Propaganda, therefore, is not of itself evil; it’s a marketing strategy that can lead to outcomes, good and bad. Because we are a democratic republic, we can undo the bad without bloodshed.

Successful shaping of campaigns seizes upon that which resonates with supporters of a candidate or weakens support for the opposition.

The reported tightening of this race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is where we’re at and, considering the stakes involved, the outcome to follow should be truly historic.

So, too, will be the events leading to it in the next four weeks.

Following the Second World War, the paths of propaganda in politics have made us more dependent upon government. As a matter of course, we have submitted to regulatory authority that binds us to its rules and regulations to a degree that did not exist prior to the war.

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