Decoding Negative Advertising, Kansas Style

by Rachel Creager Ireland

Today let’s veer a bit from literary pursuits and philosophical pondering and talk about some of the fascinating subtext of electoral politics, specifically, the political ads that are inundating my mailbox these days. I’ll start out by telling you right now that Chase County is heavily conservative, so Democrats don’t waste their money on us. Everything I’m critiquing today is Republican, or anti-not-Republican.

One of the more prominent not-Republicans is Greg Orman, who is not a Democrat. He is running for Senate as an Independent against conservative old guy Pat Roberts. The Kansas Republican Party sent me this flyer, which brilliantly repurposes the country road motif of Orman’s own website. (Kudos to the Kansas Republican Party for getting good people to design their negative ads.) But instead of a peaceful Kansas country road, we see a road flanked by cameras on one side, and a wall on the other, presumably a border road between Texas and Mexico. Immigration is a hugely important issue to Kansans, because . . . because . . . maybe some of us have relatives who own property on the Texas border. Or maybe our children aspire to move to a distant city and compete for lucrative jobs washing dishes in restaurants. Maybe immigration is such an important issue because it’s something no one has done anything about yet, so the extreme right who have been in charge the last few years can’t be blamed for wrecking this particular train. Immigration is also important because rural Kansans are xenophobic, and fear is the first and biggest tool in the toolbox of negative advertising.

Next is another flyer from the Kansas Republican Party, this one about gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis. The most important fact to know about Davis is that he was born in California. (The flyer doesn’t tell us that he’s also a Cancer, which makes him diplomatic and emotional, while his opponent, Gov. Sam Brownback, is an analytical, organized Virgo.) In case you’ve forgotten, California is the home of the baseball team the Giants, who beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series last week. The KRP is happy to remind us voters of this important fact by showing us a picture of the state of California with a baseball and the word GIANTS superimposed on it. There’s also a picture of California’s Rep. Nancy Pelosi, with strange black spots on her skin, and a much more attractive picture of Kansas’s own Bob Dole, who currently does not hold any office, nor is he running for one. He’s just there to remind us never to trust a person not born in Kansas. Because xenophobia.

Oh, look at the time. So many flyers, so little time. We’ll have to stop here, and save for another day the little girl gazing contemplatively through the chain-link fence at the strip club, the Voter’s Guide thoughtfully gifted us by the American Comeback Committee, who appear to be connected to the Republican Governors Association, who are allegedly funded mostly by Koch Industries. I’ll just leave you with one thought: Take a look at the images on these flyers and note how closely allied these candidates are with powerful people in government. Imagine if all the Kansas Independents and Democrats were good friends with Pres. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. Just think of all the benefits Kansas could potentially reap from smarmy politicking. Ooh, it makes me feel greasy just to think about it. I think I’ll vote for every one of ’em.

WordPress gave us this cool voter information tool, but it can’t find info for my address, so who knows how well it works. See for yourself.